Google's mass e-mail to its Gmail users this week on the Google Buzz privacy lawsuit is another reminder that Internet privacy is a deep concern for individuals, and web-based tech companies are losing the PR battle over the issue.
Lately companies like Google and Facebook, true trailblazers and leaders in the Web 2.0 era, are being forced into public acknowledgment and reaching out to users on the issue. Being coerced into PR by outside regulatory and other forces is not good PR, and it suggests ineptitude and secrecy.
By saying this, Google unwittingly acknowledges it was forced to do this by the lawsuit, not necessarily because it wants to, or believes it's just the right thing to do.
Earlier this week Facebook announced a zero-tolerance policy for third-party apps on its platform that share information with web data brokers. The announcement followed a Wall Street Journal investigative article that said third-party apps on Facebook had shared individual user info to web data brokers.
Web 2.0 companies need to be clear and confident about explaining their privacy policies, objectives, and controls. They simply cannot assume that people will get it, and know how to work opt-in and opt-out controls. If the language is complex, they need to make it simpler