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Bomb Disposal Technician, Brain Surgeon, Astronaut, PR Director for BP. These are all relatively stress-free jobs if you’re Alma Whitten, Google’s first Director of Privacy. For the past three years Whitten has been the final say regarding privacy for the tech giant. Yesterday she announced her resignation, determined to enjoy a calm, peaceful retirement full of air traffic controlling and ice road trucking.
But more than preventing the release of new products, Whitten also has to contend with the myriad of other violations that are constantly brought up against the company. Google is in the news for privacy battles more often than Lindsay Lohan gets arrested. A quick search for “Google Privacy” brings results ranging from drive-by violations, UK fines, and the slow death of Reader – and these are just in the past few hours.
So who is the poor, unfortunate soul that gets to call himself Privacy Director? Lawrence You, an engineer based in Mountain View, CA. He will be transitioning into the position over the next few months as Whitten ties up loose ends. (Editor’s note: shout-out to CIO.com for using the headline Google Puts ‘You’ In Charge of Data Privacy.)
What many news outlets have been quick to point out is that the position of Privacy director has very little to do with protecting users’ privacy. Look at the above examples. By preventing new products from getting released with flaws, Google saves time and resources fixing the services to meet legal privacy standards. With a strong privacy director in place, Google is looking out for itself, not its users.
To Alma Whitten, I hope you enjoy your retirement. To Lawrence You, I recommend investing in Tums and yoga classes.