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Google's New "Privacy" Policy is Really a "Spy Policy," Consumer Watchdog Says

SANTA MONICA, Calif., March 1, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As Google today killed 60 separate "privacy" policies for its services and said it would now combine data between services despite widespread objection, Consumer Watchdog said the new unified policy isn't a privacy policy; it is a "spy policy."

"Calling this a 'privacy policy' is Orwellian doublespeak," said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog's Privacy Project Director. "Google isn't telling you about protecting your privacy.  Google is telling you how they will gather information about you on all its services, combine it in new ways and use the fat new digital dossiers to sell more ads.  They're telling you how they plan to spy on you.  It's a spy policy."

Google announced the plans in January. Shortly after the announcement, Stanford Researcher Jonathan Mayer found that Google was circumventing privacy settings on the Safari web browser, which is used on the iPad and iPhone. Google also gave false advice on its website about the effect of the settings it was circumventing. Microsoft later said Google was circumventing privacy settings on its Internet Explorer browser.

"With this track record, nothing Google says can be taken at face value," said Simpson.

After Google announced the changes in policy, European data protection authorities asked that the March 1 implementation be delayed.  Several members of Congress expressed concern about the plans and the effort to circumvent privacy settings.  Thirty-six state attorneys general objected.  On Monday the French data protection authority, CNIL, on behalf of the EU data protection authorities warned that the change appeared to violate the law. CNIL again asked for a delay.

"Moreover, rather than promoting transparency, the terms of the new policy and the fact that Google claims publicly that it will combine data across services raises fears about Google's actual practices," CNIL said. "Our preliminary investigation shows that it is extremely difficult to know exactly which data is combined between which services for which purposes, even for trained privacy professionals."

Google claimed the new policies were about improving the user experience.

"It's really about spying on you and building those digital dossiers," said Simpson. "Remember you're not Google's customer; you're Google's product."

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SOURCE Consumer Watchdog

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