Grassley pressures Google for details of user data breach

Grassley pressures Google for details of user data breach
© Greg Nash

The Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee is pressing Google to explain its data privacy practices in the wake of revelations that user data was hacked from its now defunct social media platform, Google Plus.

Sen. Charles GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyTop security officials issue stark warning of Chinese espionage efforts Lame-duck Congress should pass First Step Act The Hill's Morning Report — Takeaways from the battle royal in the Oval Office MORE (R-Iowa) sent a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Friday asking him to explain how the breach may have affected users and why it took Google so long to discover and then disclose the breach.

Grassley also tore into Google for being hypocritical about its security practices during Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal.

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“Despite your contention that Google did not have the same data protection failures as Facebook, it appears from recent reports that Google+ had an almost identical feature to Facebook, which allowed third-party developers to access information from users as well as private information of those users’ connections,” Grassley wrote to Pichai.

“Moreover, it appears that you were aware of this issue at the time I invited you to participate in the hearing and sent you the letter regarding Google’s policies,” he continued.

Rhe British research firm improperly harvested the data of 87 million users against Facebook’s rules. It then used the information for campaign purposes, including attempts to suppress voter turnout.

At the time, Google tried to distance itself from Facebook saying that it had not dealt with similar issues.

Grassley asked that Google answer a series of questions about the breach including what Google did to try to protect user data, if Google is aware of any transfers of user data to third parties and why Google kept this information from Congress and the public.

Google earlier this week said that as many as 438 third-party developers had access to the user data of 500,000 accounts through a software bug.

The company also announced this week that it would be shutting down Google Plus, its social media platform that it released to compete with Facebook. Despite the fact that it initially gained some popularity, the platform had fizzled out over the years and never became a serious competitor to the likes of Facebook and Google.