Google’s offerings include its globally popular search engine, Gmail, YouTube, Search plus Your World, Google+, and more, which are streamlined under the merging of 60 privacy policies intended to “mean a simpler, more intuitive Google experience.” The unified policy’s primary objective is to assemble and integrate information from across Google’s products and services as a single throng of data that the Mountain View, Calif.-based Company can use to target advertising dollars.
Markey released a Jan. 26 statement contending that the new policy changes should allot premium consumer control, and in the meantime, he plans to ask the Federal Communications Commission to investigate if such options exists for Google users:
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Markey is one of eight U.S. lawmakers who question the policy’s fusing in regards to increased complications for consumers to adequately protect their privacy. The representatives are seeking more information on whether consumers could opt-out of the new data sharing system and whether the policy will provide sufficient protections of consumers’ privacy rights.
Republican representatives Cliff Stearns, Joe Barton and Marsha Blackburn, and Democratic representatives Markey, Henry Waxman, Dianne DeGette, G.K. Butterfield, and Jackie Speier addressed their concerns in a Jan. 26 letter (PDF) to Google’s CEO Larry Page. The majority of the lawmakers are members of the Energy and Commerce Committee.
“We believe that consumers should have the ability to opt out of data collection when they are not comfortable with a company’s terms of service and that ability to exercise that choice should be simple and straightforward,” wrote the members. “While Google suggests that the purpose of this shift in policy is to make the consumer experience simpler, we want to make sure it does not make protecting consumer privacy more complicated.”
Google Policy Manager Betsy Masiello insisted on Thursday that users had a choice and control.
“We’re not collecting more data about you. Our new policy simply makes it clear that we use data to refine and improve your experience on Google,” wrote Masiello in a Jan. 26 blog post. “We’re making things simpler and we’re trying to be upfront about it. Period.”
Online privacy is a hot issue in Washington in recent months due to a trickle of Internet giants allegedly compromising user privacy to attract advertisers.
Google knows all-too-well about the gaucheries of personal information safety. The company exposed personal contacts of its email users in 2010 when it launched a social service called “Buzz.” The blunder led to a settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission that required Google to submit to external audits of its privacy policies every other year.