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February 22, 2012 at 1:45 PM

[Updated] McKenna, 35 other state AGs, question Google’s privacy policy changes

[Updated with Google statement at the end.]

Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna and 35 other state AGs have written a joint letter to Google outlining their “strong concerns” about recent changes to Google’s privacy policy.

“Under the new privacy policy, Google gives itself the freedom to combine users’ personal information from their Web browsing, along with their interactions with all other popular Google products, such as YouTube and GoogleDocs,” according to a news release from McKenna’s office. “It prevents existing users from easily opting out of having all of their information integrated.”

The ramifications for those who want to escape Google, the AGs said, could be costly, with businesses relying on Google Apps perhaps having to move to another platform, and individuals using Android phones possibly opting to buy another phone.

The letter says in part:

Google’s new privacy policy is troubling for a number of reasons. 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. 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.

The AGs have asked to meet with Google CEO Larry Page as soon as possible and for Page to respond by Feb. 29.

We’ve asked Google for comment and will update this post if we hear back.

[Updated 2:01 p.m.: Google issued the following statement:

Our updated Privacy Policy will make our privacy practices easier to understand, and it reflects our desire to create a seamless experience for our signed-in users. We’ve undertaken the most extensive notification effort in Google’s history, and we’re continuing to offer choice and control over how people use our services services. Of course we are happy to discuss this approach with regulators globally.

Google also offered the following links to explanations about its policy changes:

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