Privacy groups have long worried about Google's privacy policies --- and now it appears that consumers have followed suit. Google has dropped off the list of the most trusted companies when it comes to privacy protection.
The Ponemon Institute and TRUSTe surveyed 6,486 consumers about which companies they felt were most trustworthy and protected their private information. They recently published the list of the top 20. Last year, Google clocked in at number 10. Today, it's not even on the list.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has long worried about the massive amounts of data that Google has about people, and how that data might be used. EPIC, for example, testified that Google should not have been allowed to purchase the advertising firm DoubleClick because of privacy concerns.
Microsoft isn't on the list, either. In a story in the San Francisco Chronicle about the survey, a spokesperson for the Ponemon Institute said "Google (and Microsoft) suffer from big company syndrome. People figure that if you're big and collecting data, there must be an issue."
That doesn't really explain Google's dropping off the list, though. After all, the company that took the number one spot is American Express, for the second year in a row. American Express isn't exactly a mom-and-pop operation. eBay (number 2), IBM (number 3), and Amazon (number 4), aren't corner-store sized either.
The issue is that Google, by its very nature, collects more information about people than any other company, and people are uneasy about the way that information might be used. Google has a long way to go to clean up its privacy policies.
Other high-tech companies on the list include Hewlett-Packard (number 6), Apple (number 8), WebMD (number 13), Yahoo (number 14), Facebook (number 15), AOL (number 16), and Dell and eLoan (tied for number 20).