John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

“Privacy” Counts as Half a Word if It’s in an 8-Point Font

There are just 28 words permitted on Google’s famously spartan homepage. And for years now, “privacy” hasn’t been one of them. An odd choice for a company that professes to be so committed to “transparency and choice,” and one it’s finally reconsidered. Accused of violating the California Online Privacy Protection Act of 2003, which requires Web sites to “conspicuously post” their privacy policies, Google (GOOG) has added a direct link to its privacy policy on its homepage. The company had previously argued that simply typing “Google privacy policy” into the Google search engine constituted a direct link to its privacy policy.

But now that a judge has ordered Google to turn over all that YouTube user data to Viacom, the company has apparently decided that a direct homepage link to its privacy policy might be a good idea. So surf over to Google today and you’ll find the new link right next to the company’s copyright, but below “Advertising Programs” and “Business Solutions,” of course. See it? Look closely, now.

“Google values our users’ privacy first and foremost,” Marissa Mayer, Google’s VP Search Products & User Experience, explained in a post to the company’s blog. “Trust is the basis of everything we do, so we want you to be familiar and comfortable with the integrity and care we give your personal data. We added this link both to our homepage and to our results page to make it easier for you to find information about our privacy principles.”

And, wonder of wonders, the company still has just 28 words on its homepage. God forbid there should be 29, the earth might spin off its axis or something.

“Larry and Sergey told me we could only add this to the homepage if we took a word away–keeping the ‘weight’ of the homepage unchanged at 28,” Mayer added. “Given that the new Privacy link fit best with legal disclaimers on the page, I looked to the copyright line. There, we dropped the word ‘Google’ (realizing it was implied, obviously) and added the new privacy link alongside it.”