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    TechCrunch: How Google Voice Violates Google’s Own Privacy Policy (Updated)

    At TechCrunch, Michael Arrington discusses Google’s privacy policy and how he believes it is violated by the company’s Voice product:

    I’ve had a nagging frustration in my otherwise perfect relationship with Google Voice. The service systematically replaces my friend’s phone numbers with their Google Voice numbers when they call, even when they aren’t calling from Google Voice. Not only has this led to a lot of confusing and time wasting “how did you get my Google Voice phone number?” conversations, it is a clear violation of Google’s own privacy policy.

    Here’s how this works: Let’s say you signed up for Google Voice sometime in the past. The main benefit of Google Voice is that it forwards calls to your other phones – the whole “one number for life” thing. So you probably told Google Voice a few of your other phone numbers – home, work, mobile, etc. And then perhaps you stopped using the service after testing it.

    Now if you call my Google Voice number from any of those real phone numbers that you told Google about, the caller ID and archived information on Google Voice (missed and received calls, voicemails) says your Google Voice number, not the number you are calling from.

    That creates confusion. If I have your mobile number stored in my phone, it doesn’t recognize the Google Voice caller ID and I tend to ignore the call. […]

    Inbound text messages have the same problem.

    Arrington notes that this violates Google’s Privacy Policy, which has three exceptions for data sharing, none of which apply in this case.

    In an update, Arrington says:

    I’ve spoken with Google Voice cofounder Vincent Paquet this morning, who says that this is a feature of SMS but should not be happening with voice. I can verify the issue with SMS last night, and I can’t say with certainty that the previous times that I’ve noticed the issue it involved a voice call, not just SMS (its all one big inbox on Google Voice and voicemails are transcribed, so things aren’t segmented like the old days). Also the problem did not occur in a test call this morning with Vincent from a land line. Google Voice will change the SMS feature to opt-in, they say, and are looking into the voice issue.

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