U.S. State Attorneys Take Aim at Google Privacy Plan

  |  February 23, 2012   |  Comments

Attorneys General have "strong concern" with overhaul

A group of US state attorneys are speaking out against Google's planned overhaul to its privacy settings.

The National Association of Attorneys General said in an open letter to Google chief executive Larry Page stating that the group had "strong concerns" with the the way Google plans to consolidate its multiple privacy policies into one single agreement.

"Until now, users of Google's many products could use different products in different ways, expecting that information they provide for one product, such as YouTube, would not be synthesized with information they provide for another product, such as Gmail and Maps," the association said in the letter.

"The new policy forces these consumers to allow information across all of these products to be shared, without giving them the proper ability to opt out."

The attorneys general later state that the company's wide range of products could make it difficult for users to opt out of the policy entirely without cutting their access to other services. The association worries that with so many popular platforms in use, end users may be forced to agreeing with a policy and expose information they would otherwise be uncomfortable with sharing.

"This invasion of privacy will be costly for many users to escape," the group wrote.

"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."

The letter comes as the company prepares to roll out the March 1 policy overhaul. The move will consolidate the privacy policy for all Google applications and services into a single agreement.

Google has argued that the policy will simplify the management of private data and allow users to better understand how their data is handled. Opponents, meanwhile, have claimed that the move will violate the users' previous wishes and consent for how their data is shared.

The Attorneys have asked to meet with Google, and gave a February 29 deadline for the company to respond.

This article was originally published on V3.


Shaun Nichols

Shaun Nichols is the US correspondent for V3.co.uk. He has been with the company since 2006, originally joining as a news intern at the site's San Francisco offices.

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