Google has been criticised for a lack of commitment to consumer privacy by the UK watchdog group Privacy International.

In a report by Privacy International, Google was awarded the lowest possible score, one reserved for companies which exhibit ‘comprehensive consumer surveillance and entrenched hostility to privacy.’

The report, entitled ‘A Race to the Bottom – Privacy Ranking of Internet Service Companies’, also looked at other internet companies.  AOL, Facebook, Yahoo, and Microsoft Windows Live Spaces were all flagged by the report as ‘substantial threats’, while only Google was referred to as ‘hostile to privacy’.

The report states that:

“Throughout our research we have found numerous deficiencies and hostilities in Google’s approach to privacy that go well beyond those of other organizations. While a number of companies share some of these negative elements, none comes close to achieving status as an endemic threat to privacy.”

“This is in part due to the diversity and specificity of Google’s product range and the ability of the company to share extracted data between these tools, and in part it is due to Google’s market dominance and the sheer size of its user base.”

“Google’s status in the ranking is also due to its aggressive use of invasive or potentially invasive technologies and techniques.”

Privacy International complained that Google has not been following OECD and EU data protection law, that the search giant records users’ habits alongside  other personal information and recording search queries against IP numbers for up to two years.

Google has robustly defended itself against these allegations.