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A study by London-based Privacy International placed Google dead last in its rankings for customer privacy protection, labeling the search giant as "hostile to privacy". The study included nearly two dozen other major Internet-based companies. Google is no stranger to this kind of criticism, after the DoubleClick acquisition in April the company became a target for the protests of consumer privacy organizations and is currently facing an antitrust investigation by the Federal Trade Commission.
Google Senior Engineer Matt Cutts, in a blog post, countered the Privacy International report by blaming the search engine's competitors:
"I think Privacy International should feel remorse about walking right past several other companies to single out Google," Cutts wrote. "In the last year or so, other companies gave users' queries to the government, leaked millions of raw user queries, or even sold user queries and still came off better than Google did."
Privacy International on the other hand accused the search giant of attempting to discredit its report, claiming the company had conducted a smear campaign by telling journalists the civil liberties group was inclined in favor of Microsoft, making reference to one member of the international advisory board who is an employee of Microsoft.
"To infer that he in any way influences our decisions with regard to Microsoft is not just inaccurate but it is also insulting," said the Privacy International director, Simon Davies, who also said that an apology from the search firm is "in order".
Other companies rated in the study included Microsoft and Yahoo, which were rated scarcely better than Google. With Microsoft rating four out of six and Yahoo rating five out of six, just one better than Google.