Tag Archives: Mary Bono Mack

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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A List Of Major Developments Since Google Announced Its New Privacy Policy

English: Google Logo officially released on Ma...

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Jan. 24: Google announces a plan to link user data across its email, video, social-networking and other services. The company says the move will simplify its privacy policy, improve the user experience and help advertisers find customers more easily, especially on mobile devices. Critics raise privacy concerns. The plan is to take effect March 1.

Jan 26: Eight American lawmakers, consisting of both Democrats and Republicans, send a letter to Google saying that they are concerned about Google’s plans to change its privacy policies and terms of service. In a separate strongly worded letter Rep. Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif and Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D- NC send a letter to the CEO of Google to ask him to appear before Congress.

Feb 1: Rival Microsoft Corp. runs full-page newspaper ads slamming Google and its new policy. Microsoft uses the opportunity to tout its own Web-based alternatives, saying for instance that users of its free email service, Hotmail, don’t have to worry about the content of their emails being used to help target ads.

Feb 2: CEO, Larry Page, declined to appear before Congress, but he sent two of his executive minions to appear instead. After being grilled for two hours, the Google executives failed to ease the concerns of the members of Congress. In fact, they made things worse. Rep. Mary Bono Mack said that the Google executives were not “forthcoming” and that she left the meeting even more confused and concerned than she had going into it. She suggested that Americans should stop using Google services “if Google goes too far

Feb 3: The European Union’s data protection authorities release a letter to Google asking the company to delay the new policy until they have verified that it doesn’t break the bloc’s data protection laws. Google says it had briefed data protection agencies beforehand and had heard no substantial concerns then.

Feb 8: A consumer watchdog group sues the Federal Trade Commission in an attempt to prevent Google from making its planned changes. The Electronic Privacy Information Center contends Google’s new policies would violate restrictions imposed in an agreement reached with the FTC last year.

Feb 16: The Wall Street Journal publishes an article exposing Google’s spying. The article revealed that Google deliberately bypassed security and privacy settings of Apple’s Safari web browser so that Google could track those users. Google admitted that it purposely bypassed the privacy setting, which resulted in Apple users being tracked without their knowledge. The following day, several Apple users file a class-action lawsuit against Google for violating their privacy.

Feb 20: Microsoft writes a blog post to reveal that Internet Explorer browser users were exposed to tracking too by Google. Microsoft said that Google deliberately confused a security protocol feature, which resulted in tracking cookies to be set on Internet Explorer browsers.

Feb 22: 36 US Attorneys General send a letter to Google expressing deep concern about their new privacy policy. They said that Google’s new privacy policy will expose users to violations of their rights and privacy. They urged Google to give users an opt-out option.

Feb 23: The White House unveils a consumer Privacy Bill of Rights. The proposal is intended to give Internet users back control of their personal data and protect their online privacy. However, these proposed new guidelines are not mandatory for Google and advertisers to abide by and emphasizes self-regulation too much. Immediately after the White House made the announcement, Google finally caved and said that they will include a ‘Do Not Track’ option for their Chrome web browser. Google’s web browser was the only one that did not have this anti-tracking functionality, while everybody else’s did. Google says it will include the Do Not Track by the end of the year. Why does it need to take that long? Who knows…it’s Google.

Feb 24: Google hires Susan Molinari as their head lobbyist in Washington. Ms. Molinari has extensive close ties with the Republican establishment. She was once a Republican representative in Congress herself. Google hired her because they want to influence how lawmakers vote in the coming months. They hope that Ms. Molinari can convince Republican lawmakers to vote against stringent online privacy laws.

Feb 26: The Chairman of the US Federal Trade Commission says that Google is giving its users a “binary and somewhat brutal choice” with their new privacy policy.

Feb 28: France’s regulator says a preliminary analysis finds that Google’s new policy appears to violate European data-protection rules. The regulatory agency CNIL says Google’s explanation of how it will use the data is too vague and difficult to understand “even for trained privacy professionals.”

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Consumer Advocacy Group Wants Google’s Larry Page To Stop Hiding From Congress

Approximately two weeks ago, I wrote about how Congress grilled Google over its plans to more intrusively harvest the personal information of its users and the changes to its privacy policies, which are due to take effect on the 1st of March.

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).

The lawmakers, led primarily by Rep. Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif and by Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D- N C, sent a strongly-worded letter to Google in late January to ask for the CEO of Google, Larry Page, to come to a hearing to justify the actions of his company. However, Mr. Page refused to attend himself and instead sent two executives from Google to take his place to answer questions back in Thursday, February 2nd.

 Who knows why exactly Mr. Page felt that he did not need to go himself even though he is the founder and head of his company. I have written here before that Mr. Page has an awkward and quite suspicious aversion to giving interviews, so much so that in one particular year he only allocated 8 hours in total for interviews to the media. Now, it might be that this man just doesn’t like the spotlight on him, but skipping an important hearing before lawmakers to answer critical questions regarding privacy is unacceptable. Period.

Anyhow, Mr. Page’s minions, who were asked to take his place, ended up failing their mission. After an intense two hour meeting with the lawmakers it did little to alleviate concerns – in fact, it actually made things worse. In an interview after the hearing, Rep. Mary Bono Mack spoke to the media where she said that the Google executives were not “forthcoming” with their responses to questions and that she was left confused and more concerned than she was going into the meeting. She even suggested that people stop using Google services altogether “if Google goes too far”.

And now, in a letter made public today, a non-profit advocacy group called Consumer Watchdog has sent a letter to those same lawmakers to ask CEO Larry Page to appear before a committee “to explain his company’s disingenuous statements about its supposed commitment to users’ privacy.”  Yesterday, I wrote an article on here myself where I also pointed out how Google has a problem with telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth (click here). The letter goes on to say,

“As Google’s chief executive, the buck stops with Mr. Page. He should be called to explain the difference between his underlings’ statements and the company’s actions, particularly the recently announced change in Google’s privacy policy and how it handles user data across its services…Google’s practices affect millions of Americans. Google is so dominant on the Internet that for many people Google is the Internet…You must not allow Google to escape legitimate privacy concerns by sending underlings whose high-sounding pledges prove to be empty or whose answers prove insufficient…It is the chief executive who is ultimately responsible for the company’s behavior”

Consumer Watchdog wants the meeting to be made public so that everybody can witness and directly hear what Google has to say. The group also agrees with another privacy advocacy group, The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), in arguing that Google violated its consent agreement with the Federal Trade Commission.

For more information on this story, please click here.

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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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