The Internet giant’s new policy, which takes effect Thursday, requires users to let it combine and share information about usage patterns across multiple Google sites, including YouTube and Gmail. Not included will be Google Books, Google Wallet and Google Chrome.
Those who don’t want to submit to the new policy have the option of canceling their Google accounts.
It has provoked international controversy, with various consumer and public policy groups warning of a substantial loss of privacy for users as they lose control over various types of information about them.
Bono Mack will chair the hearing in the subcommittee on manufacturing, commerce and trade of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
“The exact topic of the March 29 hearing is still being developed,” Bono Mack spokesman Ken Johnson said. “Primarily, we will be looking at the FTC’s new privacy recommendations, but expect consumer groups and companies like Google to testify, too.”
Subcommittee staff met privately with Google representatives Monday, Johnson said, “but no new ground was broken.”
A primary concern, said David Jacobs of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, is that Google will be abetting Big Brother.
The combined information “might be a more tempting target for law enforcement,” Jacobs said.
He added that it could also lead to more identity fraud.
The latter is a primary concern of the National Association of Attorneys General.
“On a fundamental level, the policy appears to invade consumer privacy by automatically sharing personal information consumers input into one Google product with all Google products,” the group said in a Feb. 22 letter to Larry Page, chief executive officer of Google, headquartered in Mountain View, Calif.
The letter said consumers “have diverse interests and concerns and may want the information in their Web History to be kept separate from the information they exchange via Gmail.”
Other organizations expressing concerning about the new policy include the Consumer Federation of America, the U.S. Public Interest Research Groups, the Center for Digital Democracy and Consumer Watchdog.