…a quick survey of “European” Google sites (adapted from some random list of country-code TLDs) turns up interesting data:
The following national/language pages don’t have privacy links: Shqip [Albanian], Bosnia and Hercegovina, Bulgaria, Belarus, Switzerland, Croatia, Iceland, Moldova, Malta, Norway, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Ukraine.
The following national/language pages do have privacy links: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Finland, France, Georgia, Greece, Gibraltar, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, the Isle of Man, Italy, Jersey, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Latvia, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, San Marino, Turkey, and the UK.
So the 80,058 residents of the Isle of Man enjoy easy access to Google’s privacy policies, while 46,372,700 Ukranian’s are left in the dark about what personal information Google collects and what they do with it. Seems if you’re not a part of the EU, Google just doesn’t see fit to provide that 7-letter link to help you understand the privacy implications of using its services.
The placement of a privacy link may seem trivial—in fact, in itself, I think it is trivial (though no more so than an overweening emphasis on front-page aesthetics). But peculiarities about how even trivia like this is implemented can reveal a lot about corporate attitudes and behavior. In this case, Google’s convenient exceptionalism shows how it defers to the varied and minimal standards of national laws rather than defining a rigorous, affirmative standard and applying it transnationally. In doing so, it’s acknowledging that the governments of the states in which it operates will decide whether and when it will “be evil.”