Google Calls For Stronger Privacy Regulation & Clarification

Google took to its official blog this week to promote a new outreach intended to prompt lawmakers into enacting strengthened privacy policies. The search giant referenced the growing IoT market and the collection of sensitive personal data as areas of concern. Rather than continuing to clarify existing legislation in Supreme Court cases or waiting until the technology is already ubiquitous, the company says that now is the time to act. Google believes that lawmakers need to bring about regulations which set standards which much be met before user data is handed over to any government agency. Specifically, those need to address the handling of data collects by third-parties in order to align standards with a reasonable expectation of privacy. According to the search giant, users should not forfeit that privacy simply because the data was handed off to secondary companies.

As noted by Google, the call to action is particularly pertinent to the IoT industry since information is no longer obtained and held solely by first-party hardware manufacturers. Instead, the collected data is available to any company with a device or service linked to a smart hub or other products. Although recent rulings by higher courts within the U.S. have brought some clarity with regard to how the Fourth Amendment applies to digital information, it isn't all-encompassing or necessarily comprehensive. Google cites Carpenter v. United States as one example, that resulted in requirements for government officials to obtain a warrant before tracking cell-site location data from users in the long-term. Meanwhile, other legislation from the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data (CLOUD) Act ensures that search warrants utilized by the U.S. government are well defined in scope and use. Additionally, that enables foreign governments that meet criteria for privacy, due process, and human rights to access communication-related data from U.S. companies within reason.

However, none of those rulings appear to apply specifically to third-party data collection. Since services and data are now often shared across multiple devices and companies in a more integrated ecosystem, Google says that legislation needs to be updated to reflect that. The company doesn't offer any exact solutions to the perceived problem but says that the changes need to take place at all levels of government whether federal, state, or local.

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