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Google launch event overshadowed by privacy firestorm

AFP  |  Washington 

is faced with a fresh privacy backlash over a that may have exposed data from half a million users, overshadowing the Silicon Valley's launch of a new and other devices.

The Silicon Valley giant said Monday it shut down its for consumers after it found and fixed a bug exposing private data in as many as 500,000 accounts, but drew fire for initially failing to disclose the incident.

The revelation heightened concerns in on Tuesday over privacy practices by Silicon Valley giants after a series of missteps by that may have leaked data on millions.

"In the last year, we've seen try to evade scrutiny -- both for its business practices and its treatment of user data," Senator said in a statement.

Warner said that despite "consent" agreements with the with and Facebook, "neither company appears to have been particularly chastened in their privacy practices." "It's clear that needs to step in" for privacy protections, he added.

Marc Rotenberg, of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said the latest breach suggests the FTC has failed to do its job in protecting user data.

"The needs to establish a data protection agency in the United States," Rotenberg said. "Data breaches are increasing but the FTC lacks the political will to enforce its own legal judgments."

Senator said the shows that "to truly end this cycle of broken promises, we need a national privacy framework that protects consumers."


Security said in a blog that "the big story is that Google knew months ago that user data had been exposed and chose to keep the fact quiet." "Did no one tell them that cover-ups are always worse than coming clean?" he added.

noted in a tweet that Google revealed a "vulnerability" rather than a data breach but he noted that "Google has no way to know if the vulnerability was exploited in the past -- precisely because of (its) privacy by design."

reported meanwhile that Germany's had begun a probe potential privacy protection violations.

The had already faced tensions with lawmakers after it decided against sending its top to testify at a hearing on privacy and data protection, prompting the committee to leave an empty seat for the company.

Last month, Google indicated it would send to testify before

Google has also been in the crosshairs of Donald Trump, who alleged that its were biased against conservatives, although there was little evidence to support the claim.

The rising tensions come with Google holding an event in widely expected to release its Pixel 3, the upgraded premium that aims to compete with high-end devices from and

The Pixel phone is part of a suite of Google is releasing as part of an effort to keep consumers in its mobile ecosystem and challenge rivals like and

Google also launched a new version of its connected speaker, with a touchscreen display designed to be a hub for smart home devices, but left out a camera for privacy reasons.

On Monday, Google said it was unable to confirm which accounts were affected by the bug, but an analysis indicated it could have been as many as 500,000 accounts.

Google did not specify how long the existed, or why it waited to disclose it.

reported that Google executives opted against notifying users earlier because of concerns it would catch the attention of regulators and draw comparisons to a data privacy scandal at

Earlier this year, acknowledged that tens of millions of users had personal data hijacked by Cambridge Analytica, a political firm working for in 2016.

Google has also faced increasing tensions over a reported which would be acceptable to Chinese censors, and over its work for the

On Tuesday, Google confirmed it is dropping out of the bidding for a huge that could be worth up to $10 billion, saying the deal would be inconsistent with its principles.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, October 10 2018. 01:50 IST
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