Markey calls for FTC probe of Google privacy changes

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Google announced on Tuesday it will consolidate the privacy policies of its various services into a single document. The company said the change will make its privacy policy simpler and easier to understand, but many consumers are expressing outrage. 


The changes would allow Google to share information between its services. Users could begin seeing advertisements in Gmail based on videos they watched on YouTube, for example.

But Markey said those changes could violate the settlement that Google reached with the FTC last year.

The FTC charged Google with violating its own privacy policy by automatically opting users in to its now defunct social network, Google Buzz.

To settle the charges, Google agreed to not misrepresent its privacy practices or change the way it uses or shares consumer data without obtaining consent first.

"Our goal with the change is to make it easier for users to understand our policy but it's important to understand that our privacy practices have not changed. Users still have control over what data they choose to share when using our services," a Google spokeswoman said.

"People don’t need to log in to use many of our services, including Search, Maps and YouTube. When someone does log in to use our services, we give them ways to control how the information in their account is used. For example, they can use the Google Dashboard to see and control what information we associate with their account. They can also turn off search personalization, turn off or edit their search history, turn their Gmail chats to 'off the record' and use the Ads Preferences Manager to control how ads are tailored to them."

Markey was one of eight lawmakers who wrote a letter to Google CEO Larry Page on Thursday, asking him to explain the privacy changes in detail.