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36 State Attorneys General Express Concerns About Google's New Privacy Policy

Today, the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) sent a letter signed by Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler (and NAAG President-Elect) and 35 other State Attorneys General to Google CEO Larry Page expressing concern over Google’s new privacy policy.

According to the letter, Google’s new privacy policy, effective March 1, will force “consumers to allow information across all [Google] products to be shared, without giving them the proper ability to opt out.”

Google’s new policy underscores a major issue within the Internet ecosystem – Google, with overwhelming control over the U.S. and European search markets (with 79% and 94% dominance respectively), no longer feels any competitive pressure to build and retain consumer trust. As the NAAG letter points out, “It rings hollow to call [consumers’] ability to exit the Google products ecosystem a ‘choice’ in an Internet economy where the clear majority of all Internet users use – and frequently rely on – at least one Google product on a regular basis.”

No place is the consumer impact of Google’s dominance more evident than in mobile where, according to NAAG, Android comprises nearly 50% of the national smartphone market (and Google has a 98% share of the mobile U.S. search market). Consumers who are locked-in to smartphone contracts have little choice when it comes to the new policy. As the letter states, “No doubt many of these consumers bought an Android-powered phone in reliance on Google’s existing privacy policy, which touted to these consumers that ‘We will not reduce your rights under this Privacy Policy without your explicit consent.’”

FairSearch.org applauds these state antitrust enforcers for recognizing how Google’s abuse of its dominant position in search harms consumers – and for demanding answers from the company’s leadership. We believe consumers benefit from more choices in the search marketplace that are competing to win user trust, innovating to improve products and displaying results transparently.