There has been much coverage in the press about Google stating that they do not have to adhere to UK privacy laws.
In an August submission to the High Court, Google has argued as an American company, it can’t be covered by UK privacy laws. This submission is due to Google facing legal action by a group of British people angry about the way that iPhone setting are pre-set to track web usage, the company have already paid out $22.5 million in the States for the practice.
Whilst the pending court case is regarding tracking internet usage on iPhones, there’s further concern over how their disregard of UK privacy laws has wider ramifications.
Privacy legislation in the UK helps protect individuals and companies from keeping confidential information out of the public domain. Many of the companies and individuals that Igniyte work with have a variety of issues surrounding information that is available about them online, for example;
- Confidential personal information posted without their consent.
- Fake profiles set up about them on various social media platforms.
- Defamatory comments and opinions discussing personal or commercial issues, often with no substantiation.
Whilst Google do have a removal tool which can eliminate some content from appearing on search results, the process is lengthy,which is particularly frustrating as there are no barriers or time delays for posting new content online.
False content causes individuals distress and can damage company and brand reputation. A study last year by Bing Lui at the University of Illinois concluded that 30% of reviews for certain products that they tested were false…a shocking statistic, although other studies have indicated that 10% of reviews are false.
In terms of individual privacy, the recent Channel 4 project Data Baby that Igniyte took part in, showed how easy it was to create an individual and promote the related content online. Channel 4 created; social profiles, press releases and set up email accounts for a fictitious person. This showed how easy it is to rank negative and false content about real people. And if Google are disregarding privacy laws outside of the United States, what are the steps you can take to right any incorrect content online or remove content that you don’t want appearing?
Igniyte work with clients and individuals and suggest the following:-
1. If the content is defamatory – it’s worth submitting this to Google’s removal tool
2. In relation to false reviews – contact the review site initially, but do adopt a proactive approach to gaining ongoing positive reviews from real customers (DO NOT MAKE THEM UP – it’s usually obvious)
3. Make sure that you own your own social media profiles and check Google for what is ranking for your own name or company name.
4. Set up Google alerts for your own name – this will alert you if anyone is posting content about you.
5. If you’re facing negative press, use positive PR and press to negate the negative stories.