Facebook, Google and privacy: Dicing with data – Google and especially Facebook should change the way they look after people’s personal information

In the space of a week two of the best-known internet companies have found themselves in a pickle over privacy. Facebook faces criticism for making more information about its users available by default. Meanwhile Google has been castigated by a bevy of privacy regulators for inadvertently collecting data from unsecured Wi-Fi networks in people’s homes as part of a project to capture images of streets around the world.Although the two cases are distinct, they have revived fears that online privacy is being trampled underfoot as internet behemoths race to grab as much data as possible. And they have provoked calls for tougher action by regulators and governments to prevent web firms from abusing the mountains of personal data they now hold. Danah Boyd, a social-networking expert, has even argued that Facebook, with its hordes of members around the world, is now so embedded in people’s lives that it should be regulated as a utility.
http://www.economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=16163396

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