Published by LawTechie - January 25, 2012 - LawTechie

Google has announced major changes to its privacy policy across all of its various platforms, reports the Washington Post. In other words, every Google product (e.g., the search engine, the ad servers, Youtube, etc…) will have a consolidated privacy policy and, the scary part, the goal of Google’s privacy update is to enable tracking of its users across all platforms… with no opt-out:

Consumers who are logged into Google services won’t be able to opt out of the changes, which take effect March 1. And experts say the policy shift will invite greater scrutiny from federal regulators of the company’s privacy and competitive practices.

The move will help Google better tailor its ads to people’s tastes. If someone watches an NBA clip online and lives in Washington, the firm could advertise Washington Wizards tickets in that person’s Gmail account.

Google’s reasoning for this major privacy shift seems to be that its bottom line has decreased in comparison to Apple and Facebook which otherwise consolidate all of their respective products under one brand and policy. (One would argue that part of Google’s appeal is to serve as an alternative for consumers who do not like their private info mined by Facebook…)

In any event, the company, which recently settled a privacy complaint by the FTC, is now in the DOJ’s spotlight over the potential antitrust implications of its privacy consolidation:

Federal officials are also looking at whether Google is running afoul of antitrust rules by using its dominance in online searches to favor its other business lines.

We will be following up on the antitrust implications of Google’s move on the ABA blog shortly (link to be posted).

LawTechie is a blog focusing on trends in tech and digital media. Areas covered include intellectual property, cyberlaw, venture capital, transactions and litigation as they relate to the emerging sectors. The blog is edited by the firm's partner Tim Bukher with contributions from the firm's experts in their respective areas of law.

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