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Google's Privacy Policy Raises Red Flags for Attorneys General in 36 States

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By Andrew Chow, Esq. on February 29, 2012 5:05 AM

Attorneys general from 36 states want to meet with Google's CEO over "troubling" concerns about the new Google privacy policy, set to take effect tomorrow, March 1.

The attorneys general sent a letter to Google CEO Larry Page, requesting a meeting by today, The Washington Post reports. Among the attorneys' main concerns: The policy seems to "invade consumer privacy," and fails to let users opt out, their letter says.

"The invasion of privacy will be costly for many users to escape," and could hit businesses and government agencies especially hard, the letter from the National Association of Attorneys General states.

That's because many businesses use Google services like Gmail and Google+. A business that wants to sidestep the data-sharing allowed under Google's new privacy policy may have to move their web services to another platform, retrain employees to use that new platform, and even reprint stationery emblazoned with Gmail addresses, the attorneys general explain in their letter.

"The problem is compounded for the many federal, state, and local government agencies that have transitioned to Google Apps for Government at the encouragement of your company," the letter states. Public agencies may need to ditch Google due to privacy concerns, and taxpayers may end up footing the bill.

Users of smartphones with Google's Android operating system may also be forced to buy a new, non-Android phone in order to avoid the privacy policy, the attorneys general argue.

In addition to potential costs, the letter outlines cybersecurity risks as well. Google's privacy policy -- to share and consolidate a user's data across all Google platforms -- will lead to "potentially more severe problems" in the event of a data breach, the attorneys general warn.

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