In other words, in exchange for a single, easy-to-read policy, Google may now help itself to any and all user information—information that users have intentionally provided on some Google-owned services but not others—and use it as it pleases, all with no option to opt out other than closing all accounts on every Google-owned site.
“We wish to check the possible consequences for the protection of the personal data of these citizens in a coordinated way,” the letter continued. “In light of the above, we call for a pause in the interests of ensuring that there can be no misunderstanding about Google’s commitments to information rights of their users and EU citizens, until we have completed our analysis.”
Meanwhile, The Hill reports that a similar process is under way in the United States, though not quite as aggressive as the one in the EU.
After the meeting, Rep. Mary Bono Mack, chairwoman of the committee, expressed her disappointment with the responses that the panel got from the Google officials.
“At the end of the day, I don’t think their answers to us were very forthcoming necessarily in what this really means for the safety of our families and our children,” Mack told reporters.
When asked whether users will have the ability to delete data that the company has already collected about them or how long Google can retain that information, Rep. Mack said that the Google officials were less than forthcoming. Despite the “growing angst” on Capitol Hill surrounding privacy concerns, however, the only measurable progress made thus far is a plan to hold more hearings this year.
Perhaps by the time the EU finishes its investigation and installs some form of sanctions against Google’s new policy, Congress will finally be ready to announce an investigation of its own.