Press Release

Attorney General Janet T. Mills keeps pressure on Google to strengthen privacy

AUGUSTA, Maine – Maine Attorney General Janet T. Mills continues to push Google to offer more transparency and more meaningful privacy controls.  Last year Google implemented a new privacy policy without giving consumers a meaningful opportunity to opt out, prompting Maine and a number of other states to write to Google CEO Larry Page requesting greater transparency and ways to address customers’ privacy concerns.

“The kind and quantity of personal information consumers unknowingly share online has major privacy implications,” said Mills in a press release. “What companies like Google do with that data ought to be disclosed to consumers and consumers ought to have an opportunity opt out of participation. I am encouraged by Google’s progress, but we continue to have concerns.”

Last year, after Google implemented a new unified privacy policy without giving consumers a meaningful opportunity to opt out, 36 state attorneys general wrote to CEO Larry Page expressing serious concerns with the way Google handles consumers’ privacy and asked to meet with the company to address these concerns.

The attorneys general pressed Google to make improvements in many areas, including consumer education about how information gets combined across Google platforms; its notice to consumers about their privacy controls and how to access them; and its transparency about what information Google is collecting about users.

Mills said in a press release she is encouraged that Google has now made changes in each of these areas, though more needs to be done. A new letter sent to Page this week, signed by 23 attorneys general, states that the attorneys general will closely monitor Google’s activities related to consumer privacy. “We trust that the company will do its part to ensure that the information consumers share with Google is appropriately protected and to keep consumers informed and in control of how and when that information is used and shared – in the aggregate or otherwise – with others.”

The letter continues: “Online technology is constantly evolving, and innovation is welcomed, but innovation should not come at the expense of consumer protection. Changes to how Google treats consumers’ information should not be treated like automatic software updates; they should be treated like new decision points for consumers, requiring consumer consent.”

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