Reps. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and six other House members sent a letter to Google CEO Larry Page complaining about the company's revised policy, slated to go into effect on March 1. Google's new policy allows it to combine information about signed-in users across a variety of products and services, including Gmail, Android, and YouTube.
Google says that it will use the data to create “a simpler, more intuitive Google experience.”
But lawmakers are questioning whether the changes are really for the better. “Google's consolidation of its privacy policies potentially touches billions of people,” they write. “As an Internet giant, Google has a responsibility to protect the privacy of its users. Therefore, we are writing to learn why Google feels that these changes are necessary, and what steps are being taken to ensure the protection of consumers' privacy rights.”
The lawmakers are pressing Google for additional information about this system. “Google's announcement raises questions about whether consumers can opt out of the new data sharing system either globally or on a product-by-product basis,” the letter says. “We believe that consumers should have the ability to opt out of data collection when they are not comfortable with a company's terms of service and that the ability to exercise that choice should be simple and straightforward.”
The House members also have specific questions about how the policy affects mobile users. “Is there any ability for users to opt out, other than not purchasing and using an Android phone?” they ask.
The lawmakers requested a response by Feb.16.