There have been some moves from legislators to tackle Google’s worrying approach to privacy. Rep. Mary Bono has said that she will ask for Google representatives to explain the new policy to legislators. But whatever explanation is given, it will not change the fact that the policy has already been implemented. Indeed the policy is a further indication of how flippant Google is over privacy. Google deliberately bypasses privacy protections in Safari, and when customers took Google’s instructions to protect their privacy Google used a secret code to track web browsing history. Last week 36 state attorneys general wrote to Google of their concerns, saying that, “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.”
Despite the concerns of government officials Google seems intent on nurturing its anti-privacy reputation. This is probably because there is no reason for Google to fear the U.S. government. Recently the Justice Department ruled that there would be no basis for a legal challenge to force the Federal Trade Commission to challenge Google over the new policy. When the Justice Department seems hesitant to allow for even a challenge to Google’s new policy it is evident why Google is so seemingly dismissive of what regulations there are.
How successful the European investigation will be is yet to be seen. Whatever its eventual outcome, the fact that it was announced is a good start. The American government needs to take some important steps in order to protect the privacy of American Internet users. Senior Google employees should appear before Congress under oath to explain the new policy and its legality, as well as address the privacy concerns.
It is time for Google to live by its own motto, “Don’t be evil.” The Internet is one of the most innovative and liberating tools we have at our disposal, and it would be a shame for one of its dominating forces to get away with normalized invasions of privacy.