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Showdown! Grassley Goes After Google Following Data Breach

Senate Judiciary Committee chief also asked why it took so long for company officials to identify the glitch

Senate Committee on the Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) called on Google executives on Friday to explain how the digital giant is protecting personal information in the wake of a huge data breach.

“Despite your contention that Google did not have the same data protection failures as Facebook, it appears from recent reports that [the social media platform] Google Plus had an almost identical feature to Facebook, which allowed third-party developers to access information from users as well as private information of those users’ connections,” Grassley said in a letter to the company’s leaders.

“Moreover, it appears that you were aware of this issue at the time I invited you to participate in the hearing and sent you the letter regarding Google’s policies,” Grassley wrote.

Grassley previously invited representatives from Google and Twitter to join Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for a hearing April 10. The hearing covered concerns over data breaches and allegations that social media platforms were silencing conservative voices. Google executives opted not to appear at the hearing.

Related: Kavanaugh Tackles Social Media’s Growing Impact on Judiciary

Grassley asked Google to provide details on actions it has taken to ensure that user data were not improperly used by or transferred to third parties.

He also asked thew company why it took so long for it to identify the glitch — and why the company chose not to disclose it to users or Congress.

The Wall Street Journal first reported that Google didn’t disclose that it had discovered the glitch, which allowed app developers to access the private data of possibly 500,000 users on Google Plus.

The company was reportedly concerned over the heightened scrutiny Facebook has come under for a similar breach related to Cambridge Analytica.

Related: Facebook ‘Should Not Be a Censor — It Shouldn’t Be Blocking Certain Views’

Zuckerberg maintained that his company is doing its best to ensure people are free to express their ideas so long as they didn’t violate website rules, including those against making violent threats.

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) sent a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Thursday.

The letter pressed him on when the company became aware of the vulnerability — and whether his company informed such agencies as the Federal Trade Commission about it.

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Connor D. Wolf covers Congress and national politics and can be reached at [email protected].