Interesting story in New York magazine regarding Google. Seems like the web giant may have been a bit over-zealous in asking schoolkids (aged from six to 12) entering its Doodle For Google competition to provide their name, city of birth, date of birth and the last four digits of their social security number. Say what? Social security number? What did Google want that for?
When it was challenged, Google replied that it had asked for the social security number details "to keep entries distinct and remove duplicate entries from any particular student". Um, really? Sounds more like Google just couldn't shake its automatic and unhealthy reflex to gather as much information as it possibly could about anyone engaging with its services.
That suspicion is reinforced by the fact the Internet giant has now realised it can separate legitimate entries without requiring the social security number information. Looks like Google just can't help it. And why should it change when it has built a business on people who are happy to cough up this type of information without a second thought?
This was first published in February 2011