Markey, Barton to FTC: Does Google Privacy Change Violate Settlement?

Privacy Caucus co-Chairmen ask FTC to investigate if Google violated recent consent agreement with privacy policy changes

WASHINGTON, D.C. – With Google’s announcement this week of changes to its privacy policy less than a year after reaching an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for alleged privacy misrepresentations, Congressmen Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe Barton (R-Texas), Co-Chairmen of the Bi-partisan Congressional Privacy Caucus, today sent a letter asking if the planned changes are a violation of its recent settlement with the company. The changes to the privacy policy and terms of service will allow Google to follow the activities of users across nearly all its services, including Gmail, Google Search, Google+, and YouTube. However, consumers will have no choice but to either accept the new policy or stop using Google’s offerings. The changes are scheduled to take effect on March 1.

“This new policy and omission of a consumer opt-out option on a product-by-product basis raises a number of important privacy concerns,” write Reps. Markey and Barton in the letter to FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. “We are interested in any actions the FTC has taken or plans to take to investigate whether Google has violated the terms of its consent agreement.”  

A copy of the letter to the FTC can be found HERE.

In May, Reps. Markey and Barton introduced the “Do Not Track Kids Act of 2011”, legislation that amends the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 to extend, enhance and update the provisions relating to the collection, use and disclosure of children’s personal information.  The legislation also establishes new protections for the personal information of children and teens.