State attorneys general concerned about Google privacy policy
State attorneys general concerned about Google privacy policy
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[JURIST] The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) [official website] on Thursday sent a letter [text, PDF; press release] to Google, singed by 36 state attorneys general, expressing concerns about the company’s new privacy policy [corporate website; press release]. The new policy, which is scheduled to go into effect on March 1, allows a user’s information to be shared among different Google products, including YouTube, Gmail, and Google Maps. In the letter, the NAAG said they found the new policy “troubling” because it appears to invade consumer privacy without a realistic alternative:

Consumers have diverse interests and concerns, and may want the information in their Web History to be kept separate from the information they exchange via Gmail. Likewise, consumers may be comfortable with Google knowing their Search queries but not with it knowing their whereabouts, yet the new privacy policy appears to give them no choice in the matter, further invading their privacy. It rings hollow to call their ability to exit the Google products ecosystem a “choice” in an Internet economy where the clear majority of all Internet users use—and frequently rely on—at least one Google product on a regular basis.

The letter urges Google to allow consumers to opt out of the new policy, expressing particular concern for Android phone users who use Google products. The NAAG has requested a meeting with Google CEO Larry Page [NYT backgrounder] as soon as possible.

Google’s new privacy policy has faced heavy criticism from advocates concerned with consumer privacy. Last week, three US representatives sent a letter [text, PDF] to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) [official website] asking it to look into [JURIST report] Google’s new privacy policy. Earlier this month, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) [advocacy website], a consumer privacy group, filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] asking that the FTC block Google’s proposed privacy policy changes. Last month, Google issued a letter [JURIST report] in response to concerns raised by members of Congress regarding consumer privacy rights as impacted by the new policy. In January, US Representative Edward Markey (D-MA) [official website] and seven other lawmakers sent a letter [text, PDF] to Google CEO Larry Page containing 11 questions regarding consumer privacy rights [JURIST report] as affected by Google’s new privacy policies.