Google slips from list of top companies on privacy

Researchers say search giant could be suffering from "big company syndrome," the <i>San Francisco Chronicle</i> reports.

Dawn Kawamoto Former Staff writer, CNET News
Dawn Kawamoto covered enterprise security and financial news relating to technology for CNET News.
Dawn Kawamoto
2 min read

Correction, 12:07 p.m. PST: This story misstated the number of companies on the "most trusted" list. It is a top 20 list.
Update 1:19 p.m. PST: The top 20 list of companies was added, along with information about TRUSTe, which co-sponsored the survey.

Easy come, easy go.

Google has stepped off the top 20 list of the most trusted U.S. companies for privacy, according to a report in theSan Francisco Chronicle on Monday.

The Internet search giant was ranked No. 10 last year, but slipped off into the ether this year as the 6,500 people surveyed by the Ponemon Institute may have associated Google with "big company syndrome," the Chronicle story reported. TRUSTe co-sponsored the survey. The company aims to serve as the gold housekeeping seal of the Internet, by identifying various Web sites as trustworthy through its Web Privacy Seal, Email Privacy Seal, and Trusted Download programs.

In the fifth annual survey, people were asked to name "which companies they thought were most trustworthy and which did the best job safeguarding personal information," according to a press release Monday.

The Chronicle story, citing the Ponemon Institute, said:

"Google (and Microsoft) suffer from big company syndrome," Dr. Larry Ponemon said. "People figure that if you're big and collecting data, there must be an issue."

A number of technology companies, however, saw their ranking change, including eBay and Yahoo, according to the press release.

While the financial services sector slipped amid industry-wide woes, the technology sector showed marked improvement as eBay, Apple, Yahoo, Microsoft, and HP all bettered previous rankings. Also of note, Facebook moved into the top 20 for the first time, signifying an increased trust in social networking as a mainstream communications tool.

Here are the top companies as ranked in the survey:

1. American Express (remained No. 1)
2. eBay (+6)
3. IBM (no change)
4. Amazon (+1)
5. Johnson & Johnson (+ 1)
6. Hewlett Packard (+10)
6. U.S. Postal Service (+1)
7. Procter & Gamble (+2)
8. Apple (new to the top 20)
9. Nationwide (remained the same)
10. Charles Schwab (-8)
11. USAA (+4)
12. Intuit (+7)
13. WebMD (-1)
14. Yahoo (new to the top 20)
15. Facebook (new to the top 20)
16. Disney (-1)
16. AOL (-12)
17. Verizon (new to the top 20)
18. FedEx (new to the top 20)
19. US Bank (-2)
20. Dell (-7)
20. eLoan (-9)