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Google’s planned changes to privacy policy rile some users, prompt senator’s letter

Google’s proposed changes to its privacy policies has faced some resistance. A sign is posted outside of the Google headquarters January 21, 2010 in Mountain View, California. Google will report fouth quarter earnings today. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) (Justin Sullivan/GETTY IMAGES)

Google is facing pushback from consumers and at least one lawmaker after announcing last week that it plans to include users’ names and photos in some advertisements.

The new setting, called “Shared Endorsements,” would show Google+ users’ product preferences alongside ads within their social network.

The tech titan announced the planned policy change last week, and has been notifying users about the shared ads through banners at the top of its search results, messages on Google+ and on its Terms of Service page. Users who have enabled Google+ and choose not to opt out of the service may see some of their personal information used in advertisements.

The announcement has riled Google users, some of whom have changed their Google+ profile pictures to one of Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt, according to a report from CNET. That way, Schmidt’s face would show up alongside any endorsements pulled from those users’ accounts.

Those who simply want to keep their data from showing up in ads can head here and uncheck the option that allows Google to show their names and profile photos in shared endorsements.

The concerns prompted Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) to send a letter Saturday to the Federal Trade Commission asking the agency to evaluate Google’s policy and determine whether it violates an earlier agreement that the firm made with the FTC on privacy policy.

“Without users’ explicit permission, Google should not take consumer posts and turn them into product endorsements,” Markey said in a statement.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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