Though Google immediately came back with an explanation that WSJ has mischaracterized what actually happened, the fact remains that Google is under scrutiny for privacy concerns. In fact, the incident of overriding default “no third party cookies” Safari privacy settings caught the eye of even the Congress and other privacy groups [Read about it here].
Most internet users do not understand how internet advertising works and are also least inclined to change the default settings of their devices. However, an earlier survey by TRUSTe and Harris had shown that 98% of the respondents thought that privacy is an important issue while using mobile devices. 74% people clearly indicated that they did not like advertiser tracking.
The survey data by Pew Internet Project had also revealed that while people of the United States overwhelmingly preferred Google as their search engine, they are also not great fans of how their search results are personalized and ads are targeted to their specific behavior.
There might be financial penalties if the privacy issues are found to be true – the matter is being investigated by US State Attorneys General.
Regardless of whether Google overstepped the privacy guidelines or not, this is clearly another step backwards for Google as far as privacy issues are concerned. Add to it the recent consolidation of all privacy policies across Google platforms, and Google’s stance on privacy does not sit well with many. So far, there have not been any reports on how such privacy concerns have affected the average user, but there is indeed a growing perception that Google couldn’t care less about the privacy concerns of its users and as such, they may find their hard-earned reputation suffer a great deal.