American Congress Grills Google Over Privacy

 Google is receiving no love from American lawmakers and representative in Congress. On Thursday January 26th eight lawmakers sent a letter to Google to demand more answers to questions regarding Google’s privacy policy. The bipartisan effort is backed by: Republican signatories representatives Cliff Stearns, Joe Barton and Marsha Blackburn. Democratic signatories were representatives Edward Markey, Henry Waxman, Dianne DeGette, G.K. Butterfield, and Jackie Speier, who has introduced privacy legislation.

The letter said:

“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”

In a separate strongly-worded letter, by Rep. Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif and also signed by Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D- N C, the CEO of Google Larry Page was asked to appear before Congress to answer questions regarding privacy. This is part of what the letter contained:

“These changes might not otherwise be troubling but for one significant change to your terms of service: Google will not permit users to opt out of this information collection and sharing across platforms and devices. Denying users an option to opt out of sharing their information across platforms and devices that they may otherwise strive to keep separate . . . appears to significantly reduce the spirit and substance of ‘meaningful choice.’ “

Google responded to the letter by agreeing to testify before Congress on Thursday, February 2nd, 2012. However, the CEO of Google, Larry Page, declined to go himself – he opted to send two executives from Google instead. Google deputy general counsel Mike Yang and public policy director Pablo Chavez were given the task to appear in a closed-door meeting.

This secretive meeting angered consumer advocacy groups who felt that the meeting should have been opened to the public. Non-profit group Consumer Watchdog said this about the closed-door meeting:

“Your investigation into Google’s practices that affect millions of Americans should be public. There is a substantial irony in a secret briefing from a company that claims its mission is to organize the world’s information and make it more accessible. Allowing Google to give secret briefings does not serve the committee nor the public interest. One can only wonder what Google has to hide”

Despite the efforts of the consumer advocacy group, the meeting happened under closed-door. Regardless, the Google executives were grilled for two hours about important privacy issues and by the end of the meeting, the lawmakers were even more concerned, disturbed, and confused by Google’s intentions. Rep. Mary Bono Mack said:

“At the end of the day, I don’t think their answers to us were very forthcoming necessarily in what this really means for the safety of our families and our children”

She even went on to suggest that if Google continues to not give users adequate protection of their personal information they should stop using Google services “if Google goes too far”.

I highly recommend you read the full interview  for yourself, click here

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2 thoughts on “American Congress Grills Google Over Privacy

  1. […] To read the article I posted here on American congress grilling Google over privacy, click here […]

  2. […] I discussed in that posting, which I titled “American Congress Grills Google Over Privacy“, how there was a bipartisan effort made by several lawmakers who were very concerned about Google’s actions and what it means for vulnerable Americans everywhere in the country (click here). […]

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