+Francis Davey (a barrister with some experience of privacy law) has made the following arguments in defence of Google.

* Google+ is not a communications service, so Section 18 can not be applied.
* There is an option to leave the service, in order to be removed from the directory.

Here is my rebuttal.

First, it has not been demonstrated that Google+ is not a communications service. It has many aspects of being a communications service under the act in question. In particular, Google+ is tied in to the GChat service, and you can not have a Google+ account without a GChat account tied to it to make Hangouts and Huddles work.

It is important to make the distinction here that Google+ is not the service being questioned. The service being questioned is Google Profiles, which is a directory service for Google Accounts across all of Google's services. Google Profiles recently changed their policy to mandate public profiles, and to then mandate the publication of a person's 'common name'. That it is only a requirement for Google+ users, at the moment, this is still a subset of users who are subscribers to Google's communication services.

Second, is the argument that there is) an opt out, _to leave the service. This is technically untrue. Google Profile appears to work on 'Hotel California' rules. Once you create a Google Profile, it can not be deleted. There used to be a function to delete your profile, but that has disappeared after the rollout of Google+! Edit: This was apparently restored at some point recently, in account overview. But none of the help documents have been altered to reflect the change.


That aside, this questions the very legislative intent of Section 18. If the argument is true, then the section is unenforceable as anyone maintaining any kind of directory of subscribers can use this defence; claiming that if they want to be removed from the phone-book they can simply have their phone disconnected. Since this entirely vexes the legitimate original intent of the law, the defence is nullified.

I invite a response from Mr Davey.
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