Google Swallows Privacy Pill, Adds Policy Link to Homepage

After being called out many times for its allegedly uncompromising views on user privacy, Google has finally made the ultimate concession. It’s added a privacy link to that holy of holies: the homepage.

Marissa Mayer, VP of search products and user experience, takes the scenic route in a post about the move on the official Google blog. In a write-up that clocks in at 613 words, she manages to assemble a reasonably pithy history of the company’s struggle to limit the number of words on its home page. The punch line: She managed to keep the homepage word count at 28 by replacing the word “Google” in the copyright notice with the word privacy, realizing the company name “was implied.”

What she doesn’t quite muster is a description of the company’s reasons for accepting the homepage incursion. Those motives likely include a California law, surfaced by Saul Hansell of the Times last month, requiring all commercial Web sites to do something Google doesn’t: prominently link to their privacy policies. According to The California Online Privacy Protection Act of 2003, that link must be “on the homepage or first significant page after entering the Web site.”

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