Congress Pushes Google to Give Answers on Privacy Policy Changes

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February 1, 2012; Source: Electronic Frontier Foundation | Last week Google announced its new privacy policy to the public, which will be effective on March 1, 2012. Google will be shifting towards a simpler, more unified policy. This transition has been praised by many professionals, including Dr. Ann Cavoukian, Ontario’s Privacy Commissioner. The new policy consists of a laundry list of changes, but the biggest change that will go into effect is an integration of personal data on Google with other Google products. For example, Google will be able to use data they collected to customize users’ YouTube experience.

Although most of these changes have been commended by experts, the Electronic Frontier Foundation saw their public explanation as very ambiguous and they were not alone. Eight Representatives from Congress wrote to Google, informing them that their announcement left unanswered questions and to provide details on the new policy. Their voices were surely heard, since Google responded on Monday with a response letter providing clear-cut answers to the holes left in their previous statement. EEF provides a simple and coherent explanation of what the new privacy policy will change and is worth a read. EEF also diminished one of the public’s main concerns on not having control over how their personal data is shared, and reiterated that Google users will still be able to create a divide between Google search, YouTube, and other products, since there is an option to set up numerous accounts.

One question still lingering is why it took a letter from Congress to coax Google into providing the public with straightforward answers on their new policy. –Aine Creedon