Blumenthal Likely To Raise Scrutiny Of Online Privacy

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The online privacy issue is likely to get big-time scrutiny on both sides of the aisle in the next Congress.

In addition to the declaration of possible future Energy & Commerce Committee chairman Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) that online privacy would be "in the crosshairs," Tuesday night's election brought Democrat Richard Blumenthal to the Senate.

Blumenthal, who defeated former WWE CEO Linda McMahon, is the Connecticut Attorney General, who has been heading up a multistate investigation into Google's collection of data through its Street View initiative.

While the Federal Trade Commission closed its investigation into the data collection, which Google said had been inadvertent, Blumenthal last week said the states were not following suit.

"Google's alarming admission last week -- confirming it collected entire emails and passwords -- only heightened our concerns about how and why this data was collected," said Blumenthal in an Oct. 27 statement. "Google's story has changed during the course of our multistate investigation -- demonstrating the need for sustained scrutiny. Rather than rely on Google's explanations and assurances, our multistate coalition, led by Connecticut, will work to confirm the facts about how this happened and how consumers will be protected going forward."

"Senator Blumenthal could have more experience with, and concern about, Google's serial disrespect for privacy than any other U.S. Senator," said Precursor Group president Scott Cleland, one of the Google's strongest critics.

Barton is concerned about, among other things, the sharing of user IDs from Facebook with data brokers and ad networks.

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