FTC Calls Google’s New Privacy Policy Brutal

    February 28, 2012
    Mike Fossum
    Comments are off for this post.

Google’s new privacy policy goes into effect on March 1st, and watchdog groups like EPIC have been trying to prompt the Federal Trade Commission to take a deeper look into all the changes. Still, the FTC is allowing Google to move forward, though FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz calls the the new privacy policy “brutal.”

In a statement given during an interview on C-SPAN’s Newsmakers, Leibowitz stated, “it’s a fairly binary and somewhat brutal choice that they (Google) are giving consumers. I think I can’t say much more. But we’re aware.” While Leibowitz agrees that while Google seeks to streamline the user experience by linking user accounts over all Google products, and will make all the new policies easy to read, his choice of words during the interview suggests some reluctance in regards to Google’s implementation of the changes.

And Leibowitz’s isn’t the only voice of concern. Aforementioned watchdog groups like Epic are not very excited – they recently had this to say on the FTC’s stance on Google’s impending changes – “if the government is unaware that Google plans to make a substantial change in its business practices on March 1, 2012, it should turn on a computer connected to the Internet.” And last week, 37 state attorneys general sent a letter to Google CEO Larry Page, demanding some sort of promise that the policy won’t compromise consumer privacy.

Google’s response to all of the intrigue has been “our updated Privacy Policy will make our privacy practices easier to understand, and it reflects our desire to create a seamless experience for our signed-in users. We’ve undertaken the most extensive notification effort in Google’s history, and we’re continuing to offer choice and control over how people use our services. The privacy policy change mainly affects users with a Google Account, and you can continue to use many of our services — including Search, Maps and YouTube — when you are logged out.” Awesome.

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  • http://www.LAokay.com Steve G

    Google was already protecting users well enough from privacy intrusions without stripping out the query that was used when a user is logged into Google and does a search and clicks on a result. By removing the query out of logged in users and trying to get as many users to use any Google product that requires the user to get a Google account (Gmail, Google+, etc., etc.), Google is just making it that much harder for publishers to determine why traffic is hitting their sites instead of just from where. I think it should be up to the users to determine if the query is passed along or not and shouldn’t be up to Google. What we need is better user controls of what Google does, and Google shouldn’t dictate what is done. Leave it up to the user to control the data and then nobody can shame Google for anything it does. Just look at what Facebook did. They allow me to control who gets to see my full birthday, or who gets to see just the day I was born on, or even anything in my profile at all. Facebook seems to get it. Just let the users decide and give them options of control. If the roles were reversed and Google was primarily a content publisher instead of a being primarily a search engine company I’m sure Google would be at the forefront of publisher outcry and be able to make the case of how hiding queries hurts the ability of a publisher to improve a website.