Google's Larry Page defends privacy policy in letter

Larry Page Google+ page Mr Page says he "kicked off a big clean up" of his firm, closing or combining several services

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Google's chief executive has marked his first year in the job with a letter setting out his vision for the future.

Larry Page promises what he terms "next-generation search" in which query results become less generic and more tailored to each individual user.

He also defends changes to the firm's privacy policies, saying they will create a "more intuitive experience".

However, the post does not include any major revelations, coming a week ahead of Google's first quarter earnings.

A decision by the company to allow private data collected by each of its services to be shared with its other platforms has caused controversy.

Last month the European Union's justice commissioner, Viviane Reding, suggested that "transparency rules" had not been applied. Data regulators in France also cast doubt on the move's legality.

Google said at the time that it believed it complied with EU law.

Knowledge-powered search

In his letter, Mr Page defends the move and suggests users will appreciate the changes Google can now make.

"If you're searching for a particular person, you want the results for that person - not everyone with the same name," he wrote.

"These are hard problems to solve without knowing your identity, your interests, or the people you care about."

He goes on to suggest that the more information people post about themselves and others to its Google+ social network, the better the results will become.

He says over 100 million users are now active on the site, noting that whenever he posts publicly he gets "a ton of high quality comments".

However, analysts suggest the figure masks wider issues.

"They still need to work on engagement," Colin Gillis, technology analyst at BGC Partners told the BBC.

"Time spent on the Google+ is still minuscule when compared to Facebook and revenue from the site is immaterial."

Driverless cars
Google's executive team with one of their self-drive cars Mr Page says Google's driverless cars have clocked up more than 200,000 miles

Mr Page hints at further changes saying that: "I've pushed hard to increase our velocity, improve our execution, and focus on the big bets."

He highlights the firm's research into driverless cars as a future opportunity, noting that a man classed as legally blind recently used one.

"The one-sentence summary of how to change the world... work on something that is uncomfortably exciting," he adds.

However, there is no mention of the firm's augmented reality glasses, unveiled on Wednesday. An earlier post on his home page simply notes that Project Glass is "in the very early days".

Nor is there a reference to the patent battles surrounding the firm's Android system for mobile phones.

Apple attack

In an interview published this week by Bloomberg Businessweek, Mr Page played down Apple's former chief executive Steve Jobs' threat to "destroy Android because it's a stolen product".

"I think the Android differences were actually for show," Mr Page said.

"For a lot of companies it's useful for them to feel like they have an obvious competitor and to rally around that."

However, comments by Mr Jobs' official biographer Walter Isaacson call this into question.

Macworld magazine quotes Mr Isaacson as saying that Google's perceived "rip-off" of Apple's iOS system had "infuriated" Mr Jobs and led him to "go thermonuclear" on his rival.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Maybe if I could choose whether to share or not, I might consider this a good idea.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Google doesn't want to give you the best search results for your needs, it wants to give you the best search results for its income. Having said that they do some cool things with the profits like take pictures of my house

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    There isn't any such thing as a free lunch and all that - look at Facebook too, the majority of their public floatation value was based on the worth of info they hold on users to marketing companies......

    Is there is a pay service/web browser that doesn't indulge in these tactics & pays for itself from subscriptions?

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    I've stopped using Google and bing is no better. I am not something just to be advertised to. I have also started to make use of the ' in private browsing' facility on new tabs. I dislike being spied on but especially by corporate America to satify their own greed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Is anyone really gullible enough to think that Google merely wants to know any- and everything about the people that use its services because it wants to be 'more intuitive'? It's intuitive enough as it is, thanks.


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