Google acted correctly in ending self-censorship of its Chinese search engine, Google.cn, but the cyber attacks that prompted the decision demonstrate the company must give consumers better security and privacy controls, Consumer Watchdog said today.
“Google should never have agreed to censor itself as the price for admission to the Chinese market; it’s good they have reversed themselves. It sends a strong message to China about an open Internet,” said John M. Simpson, a consumer advocate with the nonprofit, nonpartisan consumer group. “But the most important takeaway from the incident is how vulnerable our data is on Google’s cloud. Google must immediately implement better security and give us more control of our own data.”
Google compiles more information about consumers’ online behavior than any Internet company and consumers should have the right to control how that information is used or if it is even gathered, Consumer Watchdog said.
“Google has emphasized speed and efficiency over security and privacy,” Simpson said. “With so much of our information in Google’s worldwide network of servers, its time that security and privacy got proper attention from the Internet giant.”
Google now offers default HTTPS access for Gmail which is a welcome addition for all users. Sam Schillace, Gmail Engineering Director comments: “Using https helps protect data from being snooped by third parties, such as in public wifi hotspots. We initially left the choice of using it up to you because there’s a downside: https can make your mail slower since encrypted data doesn’t travel across the web as quickly as unencrypted data. Over the last few months, we’ve been researching the security/latency tradeoff and decided that turning https on for everyone was the right thing to do.”