Google’s Director of Privacy, Alma Whitten, will be stepping down from her position soon. Whitten was first promoted to her position back in 2010 when Google decided it needed someone in charge of making sure that its products provide the best privacy for its users. Whitten has stated that she plans on retiring. Her position will be handed over to Lawrence You, a Google engineer whose been with the company for 8 years.
Whitten was appointed to her position just a few months after Google’s severe privacy debacles. One of the debacles was the Google Street View incident where Google Street View cars obtained private information from many users who were accessing the internet through unsecured WiFi networks. The cars obtained emails, passwords, browser history, and other sensitive information from users.
The second debacle was centered around Google Buzz. The social networking service loaded up users’ friend’s list with their “closest” friends. Who were these friends? People the users emailed the most frequently. Both issues were catastrophic enough for Google to realize that it needed someone in charge of preventing these situations from ever occurring again. Whitten had done a great job at that.
Whitten will be working together with You for a couple of months to help her team transition more smoothly to You’s leadership. You will be in charge of a privacy team composed of hundreds of people. Google issued a statement regarding Whitten’s departure, saying, “During her 10 years at Google, Alma has done so much to improve our products and protect our users.” The company stated, of course, that the privacy and security teams will continue to ensure that “our users’ data is kept safe and secure.”