Google promises to "safely discard" childrens social securtity numbers it collected during art contest

You may have heard of a company called Google. They say they're not evil. And to prove they're not evil, when Google was caught collecting people's private email and data when Google's Big Brother vans swept through neighborhoods collecting photographs and scanning for unsecured wi-fi networks, they promised that they would safely discard all the very private information as soon as they felt like it.

Now, HuffPo reports, Google has been caught asking parents for their childrens' social security numbers -- in exchange for the honor of allowing those children to draw the Google logo.

Within hours of the Federal Trade Commission being notified of this arrangement, Google changed its policy. It later released a statement explaining the whole thing. Guess what? TOTALLY HARMLESS, NOTHING TO SEE HERE, SEZ GOOGLES:

This year we started accepting doodles from kids even if their school hadn't registered for the contest. To help us keep entries distinct and remove duplicate entries from any particular student, we asked parents for limited information, including the last 4 digits of a student's social security number. We later updated our forms when we recognized that we could sufficiently separate legitimate contest entries while requesting less information. To be clear, these last 4 digits were not entered into our records and will be safely discarded.

Riiiiiiight. In the meantime, here's valuable lessons from HuffPo's correspondent:

So in closing, three simple ideas for you, gentle reader, to take away.  (1) City of birth, when coupled with year of birth, can be correlated to social security numbers, so don't give it out just because a box appears on a form. (2) No public contest should ask for any part of a social security number, especially involving kids. (3) For internet searches, have you tried Yahoo! or Bing lately? (They're probably both improved since you last tried them.) You just might find what you're looking for.

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