International Group Of Privacy Commissioners Express Concern Over Google’s New Privacy Policy

The Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities (APPA) wrote a letter to Google expressing their concern over Google’s new more intrusive privacy policy, which many believe means that users have no privacy at all anymore.  The group is made up of member states including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, and Korea.

The privacy commissioners from all the member states have great doubt about the security of people’s personal data in the hands of Google. The company is collecting more data about its users than ever before by combining personal information from all its products and services. This will make it easier for Google to figure you out and ultimately, among other things, sell that information to advertisers for huge profits.

“…combining personal information from across different services has the potential to significantly impact on the privacy of individuals. The group is also concerned that, in condensing and simplifying the privacy policies, important details may have been lost.”

 The APPA wants Google to make it easier for users to find out what personal information the company has of them and they want all personal information to be available to users. Everything Google knows about you should be made aware to you and you then should be allowed to permanently delete it if you so choose. The APPA is also concerned about the risk Google is putting vulnerable minority groups through by collecting sensitive data about them. Google has the potential to collect information about your age, address, name, sexual orientation, religion, politics, race, etc. The company knows too much and this is troubling.

The APPA also pointed out when Google destroyed over 60 different privacy policy from all their services and reduced it to one – they ended up oversimplifying their privacy policy. There is good simplification that allows users to understand a privacy policy better, and then there is bad simplification that actually makes the privacy policy more ambiguous. We don’t know Google’s true intentions or what exactly they mean.

For example, Google’s old privacy policy for their photo-sharing website, Picasa, stated that data would be deleted within 60 days of a user’s request. This detail no longer exists in Google’s new privacy policy. Google admits to collecting “sensitive” personal information – but nobody really knows how they handle that personal information. The APPA has a problem with this.

The letter from the APPA to Google was signed by Timothy Pilgrim, the Australian Privacy Commissioner.  A day after the letter was sent, Google responded to it. However, it did nothing to ease concerns and New Zealand’s Privacy Commissioner, Marie Shroff, was annoyed that Google neglected to offer complete answers. This criticism is similar to what a US congresswoman, Rep. Mary Bono Mack, said about Google after she grilled two company executives at a congressional committee hearing last month. The congresswoman said that Google was not “forthcoming” with answers and that she was left with even more concerns. Obviously, Google has a problem telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

To read the APPA’s full letter to Google – click here

For more information:

Stuff.co.nz, “Heat turned up on search giant” – click here

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