Google Moves Ahead With Policy Change Despite Privacy Concerns

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As Google continues to move ahead with their plans to change their privacy policy more concerns have been raised, this time from members of congress and European data-protection authorities.

Google new privacy policy is set to change on the 1st of March and will consolidate 60 services under a single policy.

Google state “The main change is for users with Google Accounts. Our new Privacy Policy makes clear that, if you’re signed in, we may combine information you’ve provided from one service with information from other services. In short, we’ll treat you as a single user across all our products, which will mean a simpler, more intuitive Google experience”.

On the 2nd of February, U.S. Senators met with Google Deputy General Counsel Mike Yang and Public Policy Director Pablo Chavez to give the search giant a chance to explain the new policy and what the ramifications are for its users, as it plans to track surfers activity across all Google services.

However Google do not appear to be as forthcoming as they could be about their intentions, specifically avoiding details on how it will handle user data in the future.

Rep. Joe Barton said Google “danced around actual details, and instead spoke in generalities, highlighting their efforts to ‘enhance the user experience’ – but at what cost?”.

“Consumers want to know if they hit the delete button, that something truly is deleted,” says Rep. Mary Bono Mack, who arranged the meeting.

She accused Google of not being “very forthcoming necessarily in what this really means for the safety of our families and our children and ourselves.”

She told USA today “It was obvious to me, as I left the room, that this company has established this policy so instead of the consumer being the master of the Internet, Google is the master of the consumer. I think that is just wrong.”

Jacob Kohnstamm, chairman of the  Article 29 Working Party said “the French data-protection authority (CNIL) will be conversing with Google about the changes so that there can be no misunderstanding about Google’s commitments to information rights of their users and EU citizens.”

Google responded “We briefed most of the members of the working party in the weeks leading up to our announcement. None of them expressed substantial concerns at the time, but of course we’re happy to speak with any data-protection authority that has questions.”

Over recent months, congress has been investigating the possibility that Google has become too large, and are asking questions about the possibility of the company promoting sites which use Google Adsense and penalizing those that don’t.

What do you think? Has Google become too powerful?