Google’s Huge Change Will Weaken Privacy, Says Consumer Watchdog

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[Techtaffy Newsdesk]

Consumer Watchdog says the U.S. Federal Trade Commission should determine whether Google’s new policies violate the terms of Google’s consent agreement with the commission.

John M. Simpson (Director, Privacy Project, Consumer Watchdog): Google is making a huge change that weakens your privacy protection.

Jacob Kohnstamm, chairman of the Article 29 Working Party, an association of the data commissioners from the European Union, wrote Google CEO Larry Page seeking the delay in implementing the policies, due to go into effect March 1.

“Given the wide range of services you offer, and popularity of these services, changes in your privacy policy may affect many citizens in most or all of the EU member states,” wrote Mr. Kohnstamm. “We wish to check the possible consequences for the protection of the personal data of these citizens in a coordinated procedure.” He said the French data protection authority, the CNIL, would take the lead in the analysis.

Google’s consent agreement with the FTC came as a result of the “Buzz” debacle in which the Internet giant displayed users’ email addresses without their consent as it tried to launch a social network. Under the terms of the agreement, Google can’t use data it has collected in new ways unless users opt in to the new use.

Consumer Watchdog is a non-partisan U.S. public interest organization with offices in California and Washington, D.C.

Under the new policies, announced by Google last week, the Internet giant would combine data from different services that it had kept separate in the past.