Google recently changed their privacy policies and it has upset customers all over the United States. This recent change aggregates the data from 60 separate services into one database. The purpose is to gain a more complete picture of consumer’s interests, but many claim that this is a felony. As a result, two new class-action lawsuits were filed on March 20, 2010 on opposite sides of the U.S. The suits claim that they came to depend on separate services without worrying about someone, or one company, having too much comprehensive data on them.
One class-action suit was filed in San Jose, California. This one claims that Google compelled users to forfeit their privacy when buying Android phones. In order to use the phone, the user had to set up their Gmail accounts. This is not the first time complaints have arisen over this issue. On February 22, a letter from 35 state attorneys general warned Google about the Android/Gmail connection and how it forces customers to trust Google with private information that they would otherwise not.
Another class-action suit was filed in Manhattan. This suit accuses Google of violating the Computer Fraud Abuse Act, the Federal Wiretap Act and the Stored Electronic Communications Act because Google has eliminated separate privacy policies and combined them into one data set. It further alleges that while Google had access to all of this data before, the various privacy policies led consumers to expect different levels of privacy. Additionally, it cites the October Consent Order between Google and the FTC. The FTC found that Google deceptively claimed it would seek the consent of consumers before using their information for a purpose other than for what it was collected for. Furthermore, it claimed Google misrepresented customers’ ability to exercise control over their information. The FTC states that Google should have honored their promise.
Google claims that you can control your privacy through their privacy tools to edit or turn off your search history, YouTube history, etc. Additionally, they discuss how you can keep information separate with different account or do things on Google still without signing into your account. However, it seems that Google has not honored their privacy protection statements and this suit will be interesting to follow over the ensuing months.