Trouble Online

Two of the internet’s biggest brands are in the news today, and not necessarily in a good way. Google is under scrutiny in Congress–specifically from seven bipartisan members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, over a recent announcement that it is combining privacy policies for various products in a way that will allow large-scale data-sharing.

Forbes’ Kashmir Hill concludes that Google is correct in claiming it is not increasing the amount of data it collects from its customers, but:

By combining information from across all of its services, Google will be able to better target users with ads, offer more innovative features, and, importantly for Google, better compete with Facebook.

Meanwhile, Twitter has provoked growing backlash for its statement, released yesterday, that it will soon begin to selectively censor content in particular countries if it deems it necessary to comply with national laws, while keeping such content available elsewhere.

Whatever you think of this step, it seems ill-timed, at least in terms of U.S. opinion, given the aroused sensitivities to content censorship aroused by the debate over SOPA and PIPA.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.