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AG Kilmartin Keeps Pressure on Google to Strengthen Personal Privacy Online

Progress has been made to protect consumers, but concerns remain

Last year, after Google implemented a new unified privacy policy without giving consumers a meaningful opportunity to opt out, Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin joined with fellow attorneys general in a letter to CEO Larry Page expressing serious concerns with the way Google handles consumers' privacy, and asked to meet with the company to find avenues to address them.

"My top priority as Attorney General is to protect the people of Rhode Island – not just on our streets, but online as well. While consumers are getting the message about the importance of protecting their identities online, they often have no idea how much information a search engine provider may be collecting about their online habits," said Attorney General Kilmartin. "It is imperative that we ensure the safety of consumers' personal information, and keep pressure and other search engine providers to do the same."

In that letter and the subsequent dialogue, Attorney General Kilmartin, along other state attorneys general, pressed Google to make improvements in multiple areas, including its consumer education about how information gets combined across Google platforms; its notice to consumers about their existing privacy controls and how to access them; and its transparency to consumers about what information Google is collecting about its users.

While Attorney General Kilmartin is encouraged that Google has now made changes in each of these areas, he believes more needs to be done. In a new letter sent to Page this week, Attorney General Kilmartin and his colleagues state that they will continue to 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 consumer' information should not be treated like automatic software updates; they should be treated like new decision points for consumers, requiring consumer consent."

To see the full letter, click here.

To see the 2012 letter, click here.

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