Attorney General Expresses Concerns Over Google's New Privacy Policy

Feb 24, 2012

Kentucky Press News Service

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway has joined the attorneys general of 35 other states in expressing concern over Google's new privacy policy. In a letter to Google Chief Executive Larry Page, the attorneys general outlined multiple concerns with recently announced changes to Google's privacy policy that is scheduled to automatically go into effect for all users of Google products and services on March 1.

This policy change threatens the privacy of those users of various Google products who wish to keep various parts of their online experience separate. It also has the potential to heighten the risk of identity theft and fraud, given that Google will now be storing more extensive personal information profiles.

"We are concerned about Google's effort to force this major privacy change on consumers without giving them the opportunity to opt out," Conway said in a statement. "Google has billed itself as committed to meaningful privacy choices. We want to know why Google doesn't now give consumers the option of saying no to a privacy policy change of this magnitude."

Under the new privacy policy, Google gives itself the freedom to combine users' personal information from services like Web History and YouTube with all other Google Products, and precludes existing users from opting out of this policy change without opting out of the Google ecosystem entirely.

The ramifications of the new privacy policy will be virtually impossible to avoid for millions of consumers who already use Android-powered smartphones, currently estimated to be 50 percent of the national smartphone market. Users of these smartphones must log in to Google to activate much of the functionality of their devices. They would now have to choose between either frequently logging in and out to avoid Google's consolidation of their data, thus greatly reducing the efficiency of their smartphones, or replacing their smartphones at great personal expense.

Threats to consumers' privacy go beyond the consolidation and use of personal data. Consolidated personal data profiles offer a tantalizing target for hackers and privacy thieves.