Google bows to pressure, adds 'Privacy' link to home page

Google has bowed to pressure from privacy organizations to include a link on the company's home page to its privacy policy

For Google, ready Privacy: That could be the subliminal message Google wants to send by replacing its name on its famously spartan home page with a link to its privacy policy.

Last month, privacy organizations wrote to Google CEO Eric Schmidt asking the company to link to its privacy policy from its home page. Including the link on the home page is good practice -- and also mandated by California law, the organizations said.

Last Thursday, Google acceded to the request, putting the word "Privacy" at the foot of its home page and linking it to its privacy information pages. The link replaces the company's name next to the copyright notice, leaving the number of words on the home page unchanged.

Google had previously declined to make the change to its home page, saying that users appreciate the lack of clutter there. Microsoft and Yahoo both include privacy links on their search pages, while Ask.com added a link to its privacy policy on June 18.

The order to remove the company's name to make way for the privacy link came right from the company's founders, Vice President of Search Products and User Experience Marissa Mayer explained in a posting to the company's blog.

"Larry and Sergey told me we could only add this to the homepage if we took a word away -- keeping the 'weight' of the homepage unchanged at 28," she said.

That figure holds only if you have signed out of your Google account and are viewing the basic US home page in English, see no promotional line running beneath the search box, see no invitation to make Google your home page because you have already done so, and count "©2008 Google" (now "©2008 Privacy") as two words.

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Peter Sayer

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