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Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade Presses Google on Privacy Changes

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade Subcommittee Chairman Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) and Ranking Member G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) sent a letter to Google requesting a briefing on the company's recently announced privacy changes. Members have concerns over how the changes will impact Google's users, specifically users' ability to opt out of information sharing and data collection.

"We applaud the move toward a shorter, simpler, streamlined policy, and believe that easier-to-understand terms of service are in the best interest of consumers. We are concerned, however, with other changes to Google's privacy policy, particularly with how a user's data will be collected, combined, archived, and used across services. 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 devises. While Google's announcement suggests the company gives users "meaning choices about how [user information] is used', denying users an option to opt out of sharing their information across platforms or devices that they may otherwise strive to keep separate (e.g., work computer versus personal Android phone) appears to significantly reduce the spirit and substance of "meaningful choice,'" wrote the Bono Mack and Butterfield.

The committee leaders requested a Google representative meet with members of the subcommittee no later than February 3, 2012, to discuss the recent changes to Google's privacy policy and practices.

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