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The Law Blogger is a law-related blog that informs and discusses current matters of legal interest to readers of The Oakland Press and to consumers of legal services in the community. We hope readers will  find it entertaining but also informative. The Law Blogger does not, however, impart legal advice, as only attorneys are licensed to provide legal counsel.
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Saturday, March 3, 2012

Google's Privacy Policy Gets Look From Attorneys General

By now we've all been shocked by how much information the major search engines collect and store about each of us. The reach now extends into our cell phones and possibly even into our contacts.

On March 1st, Google implemented a new, single privacy policy, replacing it's patchwork of more than 50 separate policies spread across its product line and services. In the wake of Google's new privacy policy, the Attorneys General in a majority of states are calling foul.

Speaking for at least 35 state attorneys general, the National Association of Attorneys General complains that the new policy violates consumers' privacy by sharing personal information across Google's services without providing an explicit "opt in" or a meaningful "opt out" option.  NAAG sent a letter to Google's Chief Executive Officer, Larry Paige, requesting a sit down.  The NAAG letter states, in part:
Google’s new privacy policy is troubling for a number of reasons. On a fundamental level, the policy appears to invade consumer privacy by automatically sharing personal information consumers input into one Google product with all Google products. Consumers have diverse interests and concerns, and may want the information in their Web History to be kept separate from the information they exchange via Gmail. Likewise, consumers may be comfortable with Google knowing their Search queries but not with it knowing their whereabouts, yet the new privacy policy appears to give them no choice in the matter, further invading their privacy. 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. 
For its part, Google claims the new policy will be easier for all to understand.  For our part, this Blog adheres to a simple basic principle: when conducting search and post activities on line, we keep in mind that we are creating a searchable and reviewable record.

Everyone seems to know the difference between posting content on sites like Google+ and YouTube and having their deepest darkest searches tracked.  In the former context, the user usually intends for the content to be discovered.  For example, we here at this blog wish our Clarkston Legal video on YouTube had more than 45 views in two years; my son thinks that's lame.

In the latter context, on the other hand, folks are sometimes embarrassed by what pops-up in the form of advertisements that the mighty and all-powerful web spider has determined to be relevant to a particular individual.  Such ads are displayed based on the aggregated content and personal information collected by the service provider.

This chapter just lets us know that privacy law is a fast-growing area of law that will take on increasing significance.  Stay tuned for the flow of developments as the lawsuits start to pile-up.

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March 4, 2012 at 11:18 PM 
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August 14, 2012 at 2:47 AM 

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