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Google’s Privacy Revisions: EPIC vs. the FTC

| in Google

If you’ve been signed into any Google product lately, you have likely seen the message in the top right corner of the screen. This message tells users that the search engine is changing its privacy policy, and you have the option to “learn more” or “dismiss.” Dismiss is not something EPIC, or the Electronic Privacy Information Center, is willing to do. This US-based advocacy group is asking a Federal Court to look into whether Google is violating a previous FTC agreement with the policy update.
In a blog post, EPIC writes, “Google intends to consolidate the personal data of Google users across 60 services on March 1. EPIC contends that these changes constitute a violation of the consent order with the Federal Trade Commission. That consent decree requires the search engine to obtain consent before disclosing personal data.” The privacy update by Google has no opt-out feature, for which it has been roundly criticised. EPIC also alleges that Google misrepresented its intentions to use this combined data for advertising purposes.
For its part, Google replied with a statement: “We take privacy very seriously. We’re happy to engage in constructive conversations about our updated Privacy Policy but EPIC is wrong on the facts and the law.”
EPIC countered that the FTC failed to act to protect the “privacy interests of literally hundreds of millions of Internet users at grave risk.” The consent decree was put into place by the FTC in 2010, after a complaint was brought by EPIC against Google for violating privacy rights. As Frida Ghitis points out on CNN: Google has “every e-mail you ever sent or received on Gmail. It has every search you ever made, the contents of every chat you ever had over Google Talk.”
Every call you’ve had on Voice, every Alert you’ve set up, all of your Calendar content, your contact information, your Picasa pictures, your news page configuration, every symptom, side effect, and political idea you’ve ever researched, and on and on.
Regardless of who is “wrong,” a US Federal Court granted EPIC’s request for an accelerated trial and will hear the case before the March 1 deadline.

Posted by Vadym Gurevych, Business Development Director at Bullseye Media

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