recommended reading

FTC: Google offers 'brutal choice' on privacy policies

The chairman of the Federal Trade Commission said on Sunday that Google was giving consumers a "binary and somewhat brutal" choice on whether they want to go along with the changes to the company's privacy policies set to go into effect next week.

Jon Leibowitz was asked by Tech Daily Dose during an appearance on C-Span's Newsmakers show whether he is personally concerned about the changes Google is making to its privacy policies. The company announced last month that it was consolidating more than 60 privacy policies and that it would begin tracking consumers as they move from one Google service to another.

"Other than saying that they have been clear, and that it's a fairly binary and somewhat brutal choice that they are giving consumers, I think I can't say much more," Leibowitz said. "But we're aware."

Leibowitz urged companies to provide more understandable and clear privacy policies that would allow consumers to make a choice on whether they want to continue to visit a website or use an online service offered by those companies.

"If companies gave clearer disclosures and, again some companies do give pretty clear disclosures, and Google in what it is doing is giving clear disclosure, I think consumers will be able to make a choice," he said. "And maybe, by the way, you have competition over privacy policies, which would be a good thing."

Privacy advocates, lawmakers and a group of state attorneys general, however, have criticized Google for not offering consumers a clear way to "opt out" of being tracked as they move from one Google service to another.

Google has defended its privacy changes by saying it is not collecting any new information and that it offers consumers many tools to control the level of privacy they want.

The FTC reached a privacy settlement with Google last year over allegations the company deceived consumers by automatically signing up its Gmail users for its now-defunct social networking service Buzz. Privacy groups have argued that Google's changes to its privacy practices, which are set to go into effect on Thursday, violate that FTC settlement.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a lawsuit against the FTC earlier this month to require the commission to enforce its settlement with Google. A judge dismissed the lawsuit on Friday but EPIC said it plans to appeal the decision.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

    Download
  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.