Worldwide criticism, concern greets Google's revamped privacy policy

European data privacy groups joined U.S. and Japanese politicians voicing concerns about an overhaul to Google’s privacy policy on Thursday -- changes they argue are a direct violation of the law.

Google unveiled its new privacy policy on Thursday, March 1, a unified policy statement that the company says will make it easier for consumers to understand what personal information the Internet giant has been gathering on them.

But many critics complain it will allow the most powerful company on the Internet to dig even deeper into the lives of its more than 1 billion users.

“Our updated Privacy Policy will make our privacy practices easier to understand,” a Google spokesman told, stressing that the company was not gathering more information about users -- just consolidating the info it already gathers.

“It reflects our desire to create a seamless experience for our signed-in users. We’ve undertaken the most extensive notification effort in Google’s history, and we’re continuing to offer choice and control over how people use our services,” the spokesman said.

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Such reassurances haven’t stopped critics, such European Union Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding, who told BBC Radio Four that European data analysts were poring over the new policy, according to a Reuters report.

"They have come to the conclusion that they are deeply concerned, and that the new rules are not in accordance with the European law, and that the transparency rules have not been applied," Reding said.

And Japanese government officials voiced concerns as well, asking Google to handle users data "with caution," according to the Japanese Kyodo News Agency.

In the U.S., politicians and privacy groups are equally concerned. Representative Edward Markey was one of eight lawmakers who wrote to Google last week to complain.

“I plan to ask the Federal Trade Commission whether Google's planned changes to its privacy policy violate Google's recent settlement with the agency," Markey said.

Last week, the National Association of Attorneys General -- a group of 36 people representing both political parties -- wrote to Google to express their concerns about their changes.


"On a fundamental level, the policy appears to invade consumer privacy by automatically sharing personal information consumers input into one Google product with all Google products,” the statement reads.

A blog post from Google early Thursday morning announcing the new policy sought to explain the reasoning behind the changes and address the widespread criticism.

“We’ve included the key parts from more than 60 product-specific notices into our main Google Privacy Policy -- so there’s no longer any need to be your own mini search engine if you want to work out what’s going on,” reads the statement by Alma Whitten, Director of Privacy, Product and Engineering for Google.

To the concerned politicians, Google stressed the same point it has mentioned before: We aren’t collecting anything new, merely collating information.

“The new policy doesn’t change any existing privacy settings or how any personal information is shared outside of Google. We aren’t collecting any new or additional information about users. We won’t be selling your personal data.”

“We will continue to employ industry-leading security to keep your information safe,” Google said.