Three dozen state attorneys general want to meet with Google “as soon as possible” to discuss the company’s privacy changes — changes that are due to take effect on March 1st.
Until now, users of Google’s many products could use different products in different ways, expecting that information they provide for one product, such as YouTube, would not be synthesized with information they provide for another product, such as Gmail and Maps. The new policy forces these consumers to allow information across all of these products to be shared, without giving them the proper ability to opt out.
In response to the immediate criticism that there’s no opt-out mechanism, Google said users can opt-out by not logging in to a Google account. In today’s letter, the attorneys general said that’s not much of a choice.
It rings hollow to call their ability 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 attorneys general have asked Google to reply to their letter and meeting request by next Wednesday, February 29. Their letter can be downloaded here (PDF).
Postscript: After this article was published, Google contacted us to share this statement:
[Ed. note: The sentence above referencing the "major change that affects users" has been updated to reflect that Google will not "begin" this kind of data sharing, but expand it beyond the data sharing that already takes place.]
(Stock image via Shutterstock.com. Used under license.)