A Small But Important Step Toward Better Privacy
Recently leading search providers announced a series of changes to the way they treat the detailed -- and in many cases, personally identifiable -- information they collect about users' Internet search activities. To us, this signaled a small, but significant shift in the privacy landscape, as companies began to compete with one another in the area of privacy. Earlier today, we issued a report that compares the various revamped privacy policies and offers recommendations to lawmakers, companies and researchers for further steps they can take to give consumers the control they need and deserve over their personal data. As concerns about search privacy have been heightened over the past year, lawmakers and regulators in the United States and abroad have begun exerting pressure on search companies to address the privacy concerns raised by retaining potentially personally identifiable data about users' searches. Companies responded by moving to strengthen their privacy policies. CDT actually had the opportunity to consult with many of these companies over the past year and offer recommendations for how they could strengthen the privacy offerings for Internet search. Not all of our recommendations found their way into the companies' policies, but we were gratified to be able to play a small role in advocating for polices that protect privacy and give users greater control over their own personal information. That sort of direct engagement with companies, government officials and fellow advocates has been a unique hallmark of CDT's work, and we're proud of our track record in helping to facilitate real change, rather than just generating sound bites. Of course, these sorts of industry self-regulatory efforts are only a part of the privacy puzzle. No amount of self-regulation will ever provide users with the full range of privacy protections they need to be safe and in control of their own information in the digital age. We will continue to call on Congress to enact meaningful privacy legislation that sets baseline standards for how companies may collect, use and share our personal data.