Canada to Google: Respect privacy

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Canada has joined nine other countries in warning Google to respect the privacy rights of the world's citizens when it introduces new technological applications.

Canadian Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart joined counterparts from France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain and the United Kingdom in a letter addressed to Google CEO Eric Schmidt. Noting that the privacy concerns related to the February 9 introduction of Google Buzz “were serious and ought to have already been readily apparent to you,” the 10 signatories called on Schmidt and others to “incorporate fundamental privacy principles directly into the design of new online services.”

In a separate news release and media interviews, Stoddart said that corporations such as Google merely pay lip service to subscribers' privacy. Citing Google's decision to automatically assign Gmail users a network of followers from among their regular correspondents, and its earlier roll-out of Street View, she noted a “worrisome pattern” in the way Google introduces applications that she says is not up to Canadian privacy-protection standards.

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