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Google Beefing Up Privacy Swat Team

The search giant has posted a job notice for a data privacy engineer for its privacy "red team."

Less than two weeks after agreeing to pay a $22.5 million fine for violating the privacy of the users of Apple's Safari web browser, Google is beefing up its privacy team to make sure that past mistakes aren't repeated.

The search giant has posted a job notice to its website for a data privacy engineer for its privacy "red team."

According to the listing, the privacy engineer would be responsible for ensuring that Google's products operate in a manner that protects the privacy of its users.

"Specifically, you will work as member of our Privacy Red Team to independently identify, research, and help resolve potential privacy risks across all of our products, services, and business processes in place today," the listing says.

In addition, the new privacy engineer needs to have an intimate knowledge of the inner workings of modern Web browsers and computer networks, enjoy analyzing software designs and implementations from both a privacy and security perspective and be able to discover and prioritize subtle, unusual and emergent security flaws.

Beefing up its privacy team is a good idea for Google, which has committed a series of privacy gaffes over the last 15 months.

In March 2011, it settled a scrap it had with the Federal Trade Commission over privacy violations connected to its abortive social network Buzz. As part of that settlement, Google agreed to 20 years of privacy audits.

A year later, Google made changes in it privacy policy that allowed the company to link information across a user's accounts. That spurred class-action lawsuits in California and New York that claimed the policy changes violated the earlier agreement with the FTC.

Google's Street View service became a source of privacy embarrassment for the search giant when it was discovered it was collecting data from individuals' Wi-Fi networks with its Street View vehicles. Investigations were opened up all over the world -- United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Ireland, Australia and Norway -- and in the United States, the FTC fined Google $25,000 for impeding its investigation into the issue.

The $22.5 million deal with the FTC involved allegations that Google violated privacy laws by tracking Safari users with cookies. The agreement is being challenged in federal court by Consumer Watchdog, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group, because Google doesn't acknowledge any wrongdoing as part of the settlement.

Follow freelance technology writer John P. Mello Jr. and Today@PCWorld on Twitter.

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