Google Celebrates Data Privacy Day…Really?

Yes, exists, in case you weren't aware, and Google is trumpeting the special occasion with comforting words on its . You may find it odd that Google is banging the privacy drum -- after all, the search giant is a personal-information-collecting brute, a company routinely excoriated by consumer advocates and government officials for its lackadaisical attitude toward personal privacy.

And who could forget the creepozoid comments from Google's , who last year that people who don't want their homes photographed for could "just move." Schmidt also passed along this comforting gem to The Atlantic: "We know where you are. We know where you've been. We can more or less know what you're thinking about." Yikes.

Of course, Schmidt has since been kicked upstairs to "executive chairman," and Google co-founder Larry Page will take over day-to-day operations in April. So has Google changed its views on personal privacy, or is Data Privacy Day merely a PR ploy?

"On this Data Privacy Day, a major focus for Google is on creating ways for people to manage and protect their data. We've built tools like the Google Dashboard, the Ads Preferences Manager and encrypted search, and we're always working on further ideas for providing transparency, control and security to empower our users," writes Alma Whitten, Google's director of privacy, in a .

Just this week, Google released a Chrome browser extension that lets users permanently , Whitten adds. And soon it'll expand the availability of its optional , which requires Google account holders to have access to their phone (in addition to a user name and password) when they sign in.