Officials worried by Google privacy policy

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WASHINGTON, Feb. 24 (UPI) — Attorneys general in 36 states say they’re concerned over the implications of Google’s new privacy policy, especially for users of Android-powered smartphones.

They’ve sent a strongly worded letter to Google Chief Executive Officer Larry Page questioning the company’s commitment to consumer privacy, saying the changes in Google’s policy would force Internet users to share personal data without a method to opt out, Computerworld reported Friday.

Google’s new policy, set to go into effect March 1, will bring together user data from services like YouTube, Gmail and Google search into a single merged profile for each user of those services.

Google said the changes will allow it to deliver better and more targeted services for users of its products. The company said users who do not like the new policy can simply stop using its services.

That did not sit well with the attorneys general.

“Google’s new privacy policy goes against a respect for privacy that Google has carefully cultivated as a way to attract consumers,” their letter to Google said.

“It rings hollow to call [the ability of users] to exit the Google products ecosystem a ‘choice’ in an Internet economy where the clear majority of all Internet users use — and frequently rely on — at least one Google product on a regular basis.”

The letter highlighted the potential problems the new privacy policy will have on Android-powered smartphone users, saying many of them will find it “virtually impossible” to escape the policy without ditching their phones.

“No doubt, many of these consumers bought an Android-powered phone in reliance on Google’s existing privacy policy,” which contains the ability of users to give their informed consent to privacy changes, the letter said.

Spencer Cameron