• On February 22, 2012, the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) sent a letter signed by 36 state and territorial Attorneys General to Google CEO Larry Page outlining their “strong concern” over Google’s new privacy policy, which it claims will allow for greater information sharing between its products. NAAG believes that Google’s new privacy policy fails to provide consumers a meaningful “opt-in” or “opt-out” alternative. The letter states, in part, that “the policy appears to invade consumer privacy by automatically sharing personal information consumers input into one Google product with all Google products. Consumers have diverse interests and concerns, and may want the information in their Web History to be kept separate from the information they exchange via Gmail. Likewise, consumers may be comfortable with Google knowing their Search queries but not with it knowing their whereabouts, yet the new privacy policy appears to give them no choice in the matter, further invading their privacy.” Google’s new privacy policy is scheduled to go into effect on March 1, 2012. The Attorneys General have requested a meeting with Mr. Page as soon as possible. The NAAG letter is available here.
  • On February 23, 2012, the Obama Administration presented what it is calling “The Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights” that outlines its policy for protecting online privacy in the absence of federal legislation. The proposal is designed to give consumers more control over how their personal data is used and to help businesses build trust with consumers. The White House also has enlisted the help of the Commerce Department to begin meeting with companies, privacy advocates, and others to develop policies based on the plan.

The White House also announced that Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and AOL have agreed to implement “Do Not Track” technology and provide consumers with more control over their online privacy. This commitment will be subject to FTC enforcement. Among the “rights” outlined in the “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights” are “individual control”, “transparency”, “security”, and “accountability”. It is available here.