Google’s New Privacy Policy Draws Scrutiny from Attorneys General


Shhhh.  Even the Walls Have Ears

Even the walls have ears

Google’s new privacy policy, which was scheduled to begin on March 1, 2011, is falling under scrutiny from not only the public but also Attorneys General in several states. The policy will allow the combination of personal information from any Google site. The implications of this action are that private information from Gmail or YouTube can be shared with other Google sites.

The concern is not only for privacy issues – as each site previously had separate privacy policies – but also for identity security as well.

Google’s new privacy policy raises concern about identity vulnerability.

George Jepson, Attorney General for Connecticut, was the latest to join 36 states and territories in speaking out about the new privacy policy that Google is employing. “This not only raises personal privacy issues, it makes the collected personal information an attractive target for hackers and identity thieves” he said in a press release, expressing his “strong concerns”. He added that “Google has not given users a real choice to participate and this policy makes it practically impossible to opt out, short of exiting all Google services.”

Attorneys General request a meeting with Google.

A meeting has been requested by the Attorneys General with Google to help to protect the privacy concerns of its users. That being said, the private sector still has been quite concerned about the implications of this new policy. According to the Attorneys general, “Consumers may be comfortable with Google knowing their Search queries, but not with it knowing their whereabouts”.

Users in particular who have previously depended upon Google for both business and government services now feel they are in a predicament: to avoid having information shared, operations would have to be removed completely from Google products to new platforms, a potentially very expensive and impractical solution.

Android phone users are dependent upon Google products.

The new privacy policy is of particular concern to Android phone users as well. For those with Android phones, logging on to Google is a requirement. People and businesses who use Android based phones would have to buy new phones to avoid the sharing of information; these people would also use the Android apps and other benefits upon which they have relied.

Google, on the other hand, feels that their policy is not a concern.

A task force has been assembled to investigate. For the protection of users, the head of the Data Privacy Task Force, Assistant Attorney General Matthew Fitzsimmons, is working with Associate Attorney General Perry Zinn-Rowthorn on behalf of the Attorney General to look into this serious concern. What do you think about Google’s privacy policies?

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