Experts Say Google's New Privacy Policy Is Unacceptable and Jeopardizes Government Information in the Cloud

Jan 25, 2012, 13:25 ET from


WASHINGTON, Jan. 25, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- According to experts Jeff Gould and Karen Evans, Google's recent changes to its privacy policy allowing it to combine information about users pulled from the entire range of its online products raises serious privacy concerns for Google Apps For Government (GAFG). These issues should not be overlooked by public sector officials who use the cloud or are looking to move to the cloud.

"This is a significant change for the GAFG service that Google sells to federal, state and local governments and warrants further review by the public sector. We hope Google will quickly clarify that it does not intend its new privacy policy to apply to GAFG users especially in light of their responsibilities under the Privacy Act and the E-Government Act."

"As founding experts of the forum, our mission is to promote trusted and responsible cloud computing for the public sector. By fostering a better understanding of the benefits and limitations of cloud technologies, works to empower government users to make well-informed procurement decisions from the growing universe of marketplace offerings. Google's new privacy policy will have a serious impact on the information collection practices and responsibilities for its GAFG service. By issuing this statement now, we seek to make government agencies aware of the issue before the new policy is implemented – and while there is still time to influence it."

"We recommend that Google immediately suspend the application of its new privacy policy to GAFG users. The default setting for GAFG and all similar services from other vendors should not allow information sharing at all between services. Furthermore, Google should clarify where its consumer product line ends and its enterprise products begin. Government users want to be assured that the cloud services they use are tailored to the unique security and privacy requirements of the public sector. Google could address this concern by issuing Terms of Service for all Google online products and guaranteeing public sector users their data will not be cross-referenced, data mined or otherwise used for purposes not originally collected in support of their public sector missions."

"We hope Google will receive the message from its many users at all levels of government that this new privacy policy should be reconsidered prior to implementation. Google's competitors in the cloud marketplace must also be held to the same high standards. We call upon all cloud vendors to make the same commitment we ask of Google, namely to adopt privacy and security policies supporting government information statutes, policies and procedures in the cloud."

Anthony Applewhaite
(202) 393-7337