Five privacy groups urge Congresswoman for public hearing on Google changes

Five privacy groups urge Congresswoman for public hearing on Google changes

Summary: Representatives from five privacy groups Friday sent a letter to Reps. Mary Bono-Mack and G.K Butterfield asking for a public hearing on Google's forthcoming privacy policy changes.

TOPICS: Google, Legal

Representatives from five privacy groups Friday sent a letter to Reps. Mary Bono-Mack and G.K Butterfield objecting to a private meeting planned with Google and instead asking for a public hearing on the search giant's proposed privacy policy changes.

Rep. Bono-Mack (R-Calif.), is chairwoman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, and Rep. Butterfield (D-N.C.) is a ranking member. The two have already been part of one private meeting earlier this month with Google concerning planned changes to the search giant's privacy policies.

The committee and other members of Congress are slated to hold another meeting Monday and the privacy groups want a chance for consumer advocates and others to voice their opinion in a public forum.

The letter was signed by Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD), John Simpson, privacy policy director at Consumer Watchdog, Susan Grant, director of consumer protection at the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), and Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director for the U.S. Public Interest Research Groups (PIRG).

In addition to the public hearing, the group leaders also asked for Rep. Bono-Mack and other members of Congress to tell Google "to suspend the March 1 changes in its terms of service until (1) a public hearing occurs and (2) a determination is made by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as to whether Google's changes comply with the 2011 consent order."

Earlier in the day, a federal court rejected EPIC's lawsuit against the FTC. The suit sought to compel the agency to enforce its consent order that is part of a 2011 privacy case settlement with Google. The court ruled it had no jurisdiction to force such a move.

The letter to Rep. Bono-Mack included a list of occurrences since Google announced in January its intent to change its privacy policy, including concerns from various members of Congress, the European Union, 36 state Attorneys Generals,  technical experts, and IT managers.

The letter is the latest chapter in a flurry of moves to block Google's privacy policy changes, which go into effect Thursday.

Reaction across the Internet has been mixed with what seems equal parts of defending Google's actions to blasting the search giant.

Topics: Google, Legal


John Fontana is a journalist focusing on authentication, identity, privacy and security issues. Currently, he is the Identity Evangelist for strong authentication vendor Yubico, where he also blogs about industry issues and standards work, including the FIDO Alliance.

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  • They should take up the tracking issue as well.

    The do not track should encompass all data for any purpose and should be opt in not opt out. Tired of googles evil and their lame see through attempts to trick ordinary internet users into not seeing it. Every time google wants to get away with more crap Eric or Larry make another huge payola'ish "donation" to Obama and users get the shaft.
    Johnny Vegas
  • the 'privacy groups' are just some $hills

    instigating the congress on behalf of M$ and apple. Soon their dirty connections will be exposed and the puppeteers exposed!
    The Linux Geek
    • RE:the 'privacy groups' are just some $hills

      Easy... If Google has nothing to hide then they should be speaking publicly about this. They are trying so hard to minimize the attention that is already on the subject. Think about it.
  • RE: Five privacy groups urge Congresswoman for public hearing on Google cha

    Interesting that Google has met with these two Congresswomen behind closed doors once and is planning to do so again next week. I wonder if the privacy groups have had an opportunity to meet privately with the Congresswomen. Perhaps they have, but are holding out for a public hearing.
    Rabid Howler Monkey
  • Last throw of the dice, and they sounding desperate

    If the courts have rejected their legal opinions. The FTC have already sign of it, they had weeks before Google reveal it to the public, to reject it, it seems to me they are running out of options. So now they go after the congressman, all of whom know less about the internet than you average teenager and have generally only made things worst when they do try an intervene on stuff that involve the internet.

    An I have yet to hear an explanation that satisfy to me, how having 70 policies is better than having one single one written in much simpler language and much easier to understand. and in a central location.

    In this case, GOOGLE Corporation is very closely connected with government surveillance agencies
    (overt & clandestine/covert); Google works closely entwined with DARPA, NSA, DIA, & CIA PROJECTS --
    Google has fascist tendencies and displays monopolistic arrogance.
    In fact, Google deliberately offers ZERO Customer Service and has received
    extremely low ("terrible") ratings by the Better Business Bureau & other consumer organizations.
    Google execs. & behind-the-scenes players/manipulators also maintain a "special relationship" in bed with
    covert operations and the Russian-Israeli underworld. --
    Google and Mossad follow the same motto:
    "Deception is the art of war". --
    Google corporation is NOT your "friend"; the reality is that ruthless,
    sleazy, loutish, harmfully deceptive Google is cavalierly and amorally seeking to exploit you,
    conduct business espionage, etc.
    please be aware.