Thursday, February 23, 2012
The Senate Committee on the Judiciary announced today that it will be holding a hearing on March 13, 2012 at 10:30 am in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on "The Freedom of Information Act: Safeguarding Critical Infrastructure Information and the Public's Right to Know." A list of expected witnesses has not yet been published.
It appears that this hearing will be simulcast over the Internet, so please check back on the Senate's hearing announcement as the date gets closer for more details and a link to the simulcast.
Thursday, February 9, 2012
Among other notable provisions of the new policy are the following:
· Google may collect device-specific information (such as specifics about your hardware model and mobile network, including your phone number). Google may associate such device-identifying information or phone number with your Google account.
· Google may collect information about your location using GPS signals sent by a mobile device or sensor data searching for nearby WiFi access points and cell towers.
· Google may use information from cookies or “pixel tags” to “improve your user experience and the overall quality of our services.” The example Google gives is being able to remember your language preferences, but the breadth of this tool could be rather large.
Google offers several tools to provide “Transparency and Choice,” including links to review and control information tied to your Google Account, view and edit ad preferences, adjust your Google Profile, control with whom you share information and port your data from Google’s services through a tool called Dataliberation.
Google also reminds users that any information that users share publicly will be indexable by search engines, including Google. Google explains that it provides mechanisms to correct or remove incorrect data that reside on its servers, but provides no links to place a request to the begin the process.
Finally, Google provides information about what it shares with non-Google entities and explains it security protections.
Terms of Service
Google’s new Terms of Service are pretty straightforward and contain provisions such as warranties, disclaimers, limitations on liability, business use of Google’s services, and choice of law (California – although specifically disclaims California’s conflict of laws rules). The Terms of Service uses expressions like “Don’t misuse our services” and “Don’t interfere with our services.” It also provides confirmation that “you retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in” content that you upload to Google’s services. But, and this is significant, “When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations, or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.” Google follows this broad automatic license with this explanation: “The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones.”
Additional Details about Managing Your Online Profile
Note also that in the Advertising and Privacy section, Google explains, “Ads that appear next to Gmail messages can also be personalized based on emails in your account. Read more about ads in Gmail and your personal data.”
You can also request that content you don’t want to be included in Google’s search engine results be removed. Details are here: http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=164734 (Google cautions that these tools should only be used to remove pages urgently – such as if a private credit card number is exposed – where immediate action is required. Google adds that using the tools too liberally within your own web site could cause functionality problems.)
As mentioned above, these new policies go into effect across the board for Google services on March 1, 2012. You have a little time between now and then, and I’d encourage you to read these policies for yourself and determine what pieces (if any) matter to you so that you can make changes or opt out, if necessary to protect your interests.