Catherine Cortez Masto Wants to Know Why Google Waited Six Months to Inform Users About Data Breach
Google exposed the private data of nearly 500,000 of users of the Google+ social network and then opted not to disclose the issue until six months later. Now, Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) wants to know why. She and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) penned a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai expressing their serious concerns. “At a time when Americans’ trust in large, online companies is at an all-time low, we are deeply dismayed that more care was not taken to inform consumers about threats to their personal information,” the lawmakers wrote. Part of the reason Google stayed quiet about the breach was due to fears that disclosure would draw regulatory scrutiny and cause reputational damage, according to people briefed on the incident and documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. “Time and time again we have seen that tech companies and social media platforms are unwilling or unable to self-regulate in a way that protects consumers,” the Senators wrote. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, announced a sweeping set of data privacy measures amid the fallout that included permanently shutting down all consumer functionality of Google+. A software glitch in the social site gave outside developers potential access to private Google+ profile data between 2015 and March 2018, when internal investigators discovered and fixed the issue. “Does Google plan to reevaluate its internal thresholds for determining when disclosures should be made in cases when consumers’ personal information has been mishandled?” This is just one of the questions Cortez Masto and Klobuchar pressed Pichai to answer in their letter. “Google has directly profited off of the vast amount of data collected on American citizens. These same American citizens deserve to have their privacy protected and to know that the data Google collects is safe and secure,” the letter concludes. Read it in its entirety here.