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Feb 6, 2020

'There are standards': Google CFO says she welcomes increased data scrutiny

Alphabet CFO: 'We do well when our partners in the ecosystem do well'

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Google’s chief financial officer says the company is willing to lean into heightened privacy regulations in North America.

“We’re very supportive of national legislation on privacy, similar to [General Data Protection Regulation] in Europe, and our view is that something that makes it really clear that there are standards that are being applied makes sense,” Ruth Porat, senior vice-president and CFO of Google and its parent company Alphabet Inc., told BNN Bloomberg’s Amanda Lang in an interview taped on Thursday.

“But while that discussion is going on, we continue to up the bar on ourselves.”

Alphabet has found itself in heated debates over data privacy in Canada around its planned smart city in Toronto. The Quayside Project, planned under Google’s Sidewalk Labs division, remains under review by the Waterfront Toronto board.

Porat reiterated what Sidewalk Labs chief executive officer Dan Docotroff told BNN Bloomberg about Quayside in October of last year; that the company needs to earn the trust of its users.

“Privacy, for us, it’s kind of core to the experience that users have,” Porat said. “It is [the users’] data, we need them to understand that we want them to have controls over the data.”

Porat’s comments come the same day Google announced plans to open three new offices in Toronto, Montreal and Waterloo by 2022.

The company said the new Canadian offices will be able to accommodate as many as 5,000 employees.

Google’s plans to invest further in Canada – including its first accelerator program in Waterloo, Ont. - come as a new report reveals the extent to which the tech giant is already boosting the country’s economy.

The report from consultancy firm Public First found Google’s search and advertising products helped generate up to $23 billion in annual economic activity for more than 500,000 businesses in the country last year.