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Cognitive Computing Authors: Zakia Bouachraoui, Pat Romanski, Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White

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Google Called "Endemic Threat to Privacy"

Privacy International says Google, the self-proclaimed 'do no evil company,' has an 'entrenched hostility to privacy'

Privacy International says Google, the self-proclaimed "do no evil company," has an "entrenched hostility to privacy," a rating shared by no other web site it has been following.

The British watchdog put out an interim report over the weekend called "A Race to the Bottom - Privacy Ranking of Internet Service Companies" and flunked Google.

The finding could possibly impact Google's proposed acquisition of DoubleClick currently being weighed by regulators, which may be why once the report got out Google immediately started trimming back on the amount of time it's proposing to hold its cache of personal data by six months to just 18 months.

At least that's the proposal it made to the European Union's Article 29 Data Protection Working Party in Brussels on Monday, claiming that any less would undermine its services. Before it made the 18-to-24-month concession in March it used to hold data indefinitely.

But with an eye to what's afoot in the states, Google also warned the Working Party that future data retention laws could obligate Google to hold the data for two years.

The UK civil liberties group, however, isn't just worried about the massive number of detailed individual dossiers Google holds on users or how long it holds on to them but its uppity attitude toward complaints and the lack of transparency into its privacy policies as well.

Others on the watch list include AOL, Yahoo, Amazon MySpace, Facebook, Microsoft, eBay and Wikipedia. Google is reportedly ticked that it got a worse grade than Microsoft.

Privacy International has been doing a six-month investigation using a sliding scale of 20 different factors and data from public sources, and interviews with the companies and current and former employees.

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