On what grounds can we trust a website's privacy policy and how they handle user data?

Taking Google for example which has petabytes of user data, who or what makes sure that they don't misuse user data and endanger personal privacy and is anybody keeping a check?

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    You're making a strong assumption that they don't misuse user data or endanger personal privacy. I've heard stories of Google AI researchers who get handed a hard-drive full of "training data" and are like "uhh, these are people's personal emails. I feel uncomfortable now..." – Mike Ounsworth Oct 30 '18 at 16:54
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    I'm not sure this is a security question, ultimately. How and why you should trust a corporate entity is a complex and philosophical question. – schroeder Oct 31 '18 at 14:28
  • So, isn't it like illegal for google to hand out 'personal' emails to other people ? – theenigma017 Nov 1 '18 at 6:06
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    @theenigma017 FWIW, according to their TOS, If you're talking about the free gmail accounts, Google actually owns your email. If you want privacy and ownership, you need to own your own mail server or have a contract with a provider, that specifies that you own it. – PushfPopf Nov 5 '18 at 19:46
  • kind of unsettling ! – theenigma017 Nov 18 '18 at 9:13

You can't trust that any data anywhere won't end up as tomorrow's news.

If you have data that absolutely can't be made public, don't store it on a computer.

For anything else, there's always a risk.

FWIW, I trust Google to "not get hacked"; however I assume that they're selling every byte of data that they can make a profit on. This is the price for free access to a level of technology that most of society couldn't afford if they had to pay for it.

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There is absolutely nothing that says absolutely whether you can or can't trust a website. There are only degrees of confidence. And these will depend on your activities on that site. Banking will require greater confidence than looking at the weather, for example.

You may trust a large corporate more than a small site. Our you may think the exact opposite. You may decide they all sites hosted in a particular country or by a particular ISP are not good for you. And any site could be bugged or compromised.

In short, there are too many variables to know whether you can trust a site.

That said, if you trust Google or Firefox or Apple, you can gain some confidence through the trust their browsers give to a site, in order to know it hasn't been spoofed. Also, regulatory and audit pressures make compromise more likely to be made public.

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  • Regulatory bodies keep check on google ? – theenigma017 Nov 1 '18 at 6:05
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    Yes. Various regulatory bodies are all over Google :-) – Rory Alsop Nov 1 '18 at 9:03
  • Could you cite an example or name one ? – theenigma017 Nov 4 '18 at 18:23
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    Example: Spanish Agency for Data Protection fined Google back in 2013 for data protection violations. They had a $5bn fine this summer for antitrust behaviour. There are many ongoing cases – Rory Alsop Nov 5 '18 at 7:42

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