The Inquirer-Home

US state attorneys write to Larry Page over Google privacy policy changes

Updated Want to discuss their concerns ASAP
Thu Feb 23 2012, 10:17

A BUS LOAD of US state attorneys general have written a joint letter to Google's CEO Larry Page about the changes the company is making to user privacy policies.

The 32 attorneys, known collectively as the National Association of Attorneys General, want to meet with Larry Page as soon as possible to express their concerns over changes that will see a user's separate Google services accounts merged into one.

They write that Google, and its products such as Youtube, have a diverse range of users that might not want to share their personal data across its whole portfolio, and warn that after the changes they could find themselves forced to stop using their preferred applications or web services in order to cease sharing data across the rest.

"Google's new privacy policy is troubling for a number of reasons (PDF). On a fundamental level, the policy appears to invade consumer privacy by automatically sharing personal information consumers input into one Google product with all Google products," they write.

They say Google's new privacy policy appears to give users no choice in the matter, invading their privacy. They claim it rings hollow to call their ability to leave the Google products ecosystem a "choice" in an internet where the majority of users rely upon at least one Google product on a regular basis.

This will not only not apply to individuals but to larger organisations as well. And the attorneys warn that Google could risk losing important applications customers.

"This invasion of privacy will be costly for many users to escape. For users who rely on Google products for their business - a use that Google has actively promoted - avoiding this information sharing may mean moving their entire business over to different platforms, reprinting any business cards or letterhead that contained Gmail addresses, re-training employees on web-based sharing and calendar services, and more," they add.

"The problem is compounded for the many federal, state, and local government agencies that have transitioned to Google Apps."

They go on, warning that for Android users the changes are likely to be much worse. Here they say that consumers might be forced into "buying an entirely new phone at great personal expense", just because Google decided to change its stance on privacy.

"No doubt many of these consumers bought an Android-powered phone in reliance on Google's existing privacy policy, which touted to these consumers that 'We will not reduce your rights under this Privacy Policy without your explicit consent'," the letter adds. "That promise appears not to be honored by the new privacy policy."

Google has consistently defended the changes, and we have asked it to respond to this letter.

Google has responded to our request for a comment, and once again it defended its privacy policy changes.

"Our updated Privacy Policy will make our privacy practices easier to understand, and it reflects our desire to create a seamless experience for our signed-in users," said a spokesperson.

"We've undertaken the most extensive notification effort in Google's history, and we're continuing to offer choice and control over how people use our services services. Of course we are happy to discuss this approach with regulators globally."



Share this:

blog comments powered by Disqus
Subscribe to INQ newsletters

Sign up for INQbot – a weekly roundup of the best from the INQ

INQ Poll

Happy new year!

What tech are you most looking forward to in 2015