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Google launches privacy channel on YouTube

Google starts public education campaign about its privacy practices on YouTube one day before FTC holds behavioral ad targeting event.

Google launched a privacy channel on YouTube Wednesday with videos explaining its privacy policies. The move comes on the eve of a two-day Federal Trade Commission-hosted town hall event on behavioral ad targeting to be held in Washington, D.C.

In a Google video titled "Google Search Privacy: Plain and Simple," a Google support engineer draws on a whiteboard, explaining what type of information is collected by Google servers, such as IP address and cookie data, when you conduct a Google search.

A video on Google's privacy channel explains the basics about the company's privacy practices. This screenshot shows a whiteboard drawing of the type of log data Google keeps when someone conducts a Web search. Google

"In future videos, we'll talk about why Google keeps logs, what information we record when you're signed into a Google account, and steps you can take to increase your privacy when surfing online," a description under the video says.

Another video shows Peter Fleischer, Google's Global Privacy Council, speaking at the 29th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners in Montreal in September. But you'll have to speak French to understand that one.

An entry on the Google Public Policy Blog announces the privacy channel and says that those speaking at the town hall meeting will include Tim Armstrong, Google's president of North American advertising and commerce; Nicole Wong, deputy general counsel; and Jane Horvath, senior privacy counsel.

"This is the first time since 2000 that the Commission has taken an industrywide look at online advertising practices, and given the recent acquisitions in the space by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL, and others, it's a good time to explore the privacy implications of new ad technologies, and in an industrywide way," writes Google Policy Counsel Pablo Chavez.

He was referring to recent acquisitions of online ad companies, including Microsoft buying aQuantive, Yahoo acquiring Right Media and Blue Lithium, and AOL's buying Tacoda. But it's Google's proposed purchase of DoubleClick that has provoked the most concern.

Privacy advocates are worried about the threat posed if Google were to marry its Web search data with data collected by DoubleClick's online display advertising technology. While approval for the proposed Google-DoubleClick merger is pending in the U.S. and Europe, Australia has given it the OK.

Google has increasingly been turning to videos on YouTube to explain its policies and even how to use its products. For example, there is one on Google adding new cities to its Street View map service.