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Google defends new privacy policy to Congress

January 31, 2012 | 11:53 am


Google has been facing a barrage of questions about changes it plans to make to its privacy policy that affects how it handles the voluminous data it collects from hundreds of millions of people around the globe. 

Some of those questions have come from members of Congress who question if Google is sacrificing its users to boost its online advertising business as it pushes into new areas such as social networking and mobile devices.

The Internet search giant responded Tuesday in a letter, saying its new privacy policy helps users and is similar to those used by other Internet companies.

Google said it was just making its privacy policy easier to understand and said it was already sharing information about its users across services.

It also said the new privacy policy benefits users by helping them find the information they are looking for more quickly.

For example, Google says currently when someone signs into Google and searches for recipes, it can't recommend cooking videos on YouTube. That will change with the new privacy policy that takes effect March 1. That also means Google can show users even more finely targeted online ads.

Reps. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe Barton (R-Texas) on Friday asked the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to probe whether the changes violate Google's settlement last year over its now defunct Google Buzz social network. People have different options to evade this kind of tracking. They can open Google accounts not associated with their real names. Or they can just not log in.


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-- Jessica Guynn

Photo: A sign for Google is displayed behind the Google android robot, at the National Retail Federation, in New York on Jan. 17, 2012. Credit: Mark Lennihan/AP Photo