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Attorney General Gansler Keeps Pressure on Google to Strengthen Privacy
Progress has been made to protect consumers, but concerns remain

Baltimore, MD ( July 3, 2013) - Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, joined by 22 other state attorneys general, announced progress in their effort to work with Google to improve how it protects consumer privacy, and called on the company to offer greater transparency and more meaningful privacy controls.

"We have sat down at the table with Google and have pushed for greater privacy protections on behalf of all consumers," said Attorney General Gansler. "Our concerns have been heard and acted on. We're pleased this dialogue has produced some progress, but there is still much more to do and we plan to keep up the pressure."

Last year, after Google implemented a new unified privacy policy without giving consumers a meaningful opportunity to opt out, 36 state attorneys general wrote to CEO Larry Page expressing serious concerns with the way Google handles consumers' privacy, and asked to meet with the company to find avenues to address them.

In that letter and the subsequent dialogue, the attorneys general pressed Google to make improvements in multiple areas, including its consumer education about how information gets combined across Google platforms; its notice to consumers about their existing privacy controls and how to access them; and its transparency to consumers about what information Google is collecting about its users.

Attorney General Gansler is encouraged that Google has now made changes in each of these areas, though more needs to be done. In a new letter sent to Page this week, the attorneys general state that they will continue to closely monitor Google's activities related to consumer privacy. "We trust that the company will do its part to ensure that the information consumers share with Google is appropriately protected and to keep consumers informed and in control of how and when that information is used and shared - in the aggregate or otherwise - with others."

The letter continues: "Online technology is constantly evolving, and innovation is welcomed, but innovation should not come at the expense of consumer protection. Changes to how Google treats consumer' information should not be treated like automatic software updates; they should be treated like new decision points for consumers, requiring consumer consent."

The full letter can be seen here http://www.oag.state.md.us/Press/Google_Improving_Privacy_Controls.pdf.

The initial February 2012 letter can be viewed at http://www.oag.state.md.us/Press/Google_Privacy_Policy.pdf

   

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