, first I should clarify that I am speaking as a private person, not a representative of Google. In fact, company policy actually discourages me from making comments like these, and I have to tread carefully to avoid getting myself in trouble here.
On the Safari thing, that was a mistake, and it was also (IMO) overblown. The workaround was used to make the G+ +1 button work for users that had opted in. It was wrong, and if the privacy team -- much less higher management -- had heard about it, it wouldn't have happened.
On the Wifi packet sniffing, that was also a mistake, and also overblown. When Google discovered what was happening, they volunteered the information to the relevant authorities, then cooperated fully with the investigation. Those aren't the actions of a company trying to secretly collect information, they're the actions of a company that made a mistake and is trying to fix it.
In a company with 20,000 engineers, mostly operating with a great deal of self-direction, mistakes do happen. The fact that Buzz, Safari, and Street View Wifi are the only significant missteps to me indicates an extremely effective focus on user privacy, particularly since all of those predated the establishment of formal privacy reviews. The fact that they happened means that the privacy reviews (a mandatory part of any design review) are necessary, that merely having a culture of respect for user privacy isn't enough, but the fact that the list is so small is ample evidence of the culture of respect.
Also, none of those examples fits your claim, that Google denied collecting data but was then found collecting it. I was fully aware of those when I asked for evidence, and I asked because I wanted to see if you knew of something that actually fit that description.
I don't know what the deal was with your phone number; I strongly doubt that Google made it reverse-searchable. It's possible that the data was stored somewhere and that it had to be cleaned up. I'm aware of cases of user information having been inadvertently collected by teams I work with... and as soon as someone notices it, the privacy team is notified and the data is destroyed. Problems are inevitable, what matters is how they're addressed, and Google does a good job. Of course, that's based on my insider perspective; I can't prove it to you and I could be lying.
On location tracking in Gmail, yes, Google uses your IP address to guess the location of your logins. The information is used for security purposes (to flag when someone from an unusual place logs into your account -- this catches a lot of account compromises) and for localizing searches, etc. All of this is plainly spelled out. There's also Android-based location tracking, which is entirely optional, and if you enable it there's a nice dashboard which you can use to see everywhere you've been. I actually have that on and find it quite useful on the occasions I need to remember where I was at a specific date and time.
Finally, if you're really concerned about Google and privacy, how can this be the first time you've heard of the Buzz consent decree, and the FTC-imposed privacy audits?