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Privacy group sues FTC over Google's privacy changes

10 February 2012

A US federal judge has granted the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) an accelerated briefing schedule for its lawsuit against the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over Google’s new privacy policy.

The accelerated schedule should enable the court to hear the complaint before Google’s new privacy policy takes effect on March 1, according to a report by The Hill newspaper.

In its lawsuit, EPIC is arguing that Google’s privacy changes violate a settlement that the FTC reached with the company over its Buzz social network and therefore the commission should block the changes.

“In January 2012, Google announced that it would change its terms of service for current users of Google services and consolidate users’ personal information across more than 60 Google services in clear violation of its prior commitments to the Federal Trade Commission”, EPIC wrote in its complaint.

"The FTC has thus far failed to take any action regarding this matter, placing the privacy interests of literally hundreds of millions of Internet users at grave risk", it added.

Google has come under fire since it announced last month it will consolidate the privacy policies of its various services into a single document. To implement the one privacy policy, Google will track users across all services and will share that information across those products.

Last month, two US representatives sent a letter to the FTC asking the agency to probe whether the lack of an opt-out provision in Google’s new privacy policy, which allows the company to track activities of users across most of its services, violates the company’s agreement over the Buzz social network.

In October, the FTC and Google settled charges that the company used deceptive practices and violated its own privacy policy by making it difficult for Gmail users to opt out of the Buzz social network.

This article is featured in:
Compliance and Policy  •  Internet and Network Security  •  Public Sector


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