WASHINGTON, DC — Consumer Watchdog praised the Federal Trade Commission for requiring Google to submit to privacy audits for the next twenty years, but said the Internet giant should also face monetary penalties for its abuses. The nonpartisan, nonprofit public interest group also called for government action to curtail Google’s anti-competitive practices.
“We appreciate this landmark privacy decision by the FTC, but Google needs to be punished and feel pain on its bottom line,” said John M. Simpson, director of Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project. “Nothing will completely stop Google from invading users’ privacy until it gets hit where it hurts, its bank accounts.”
Consumer Watchdog said the lack of a strong online privacy law hampered the FTC in its action against Google.
“More than anything, this demonstrates the need for strong privacy legislation that includes a requirement for a ‘Do Not Track Me’ mechanism,” said Simpson.
The FTC settlement was prompted by Google’s launch of its social network, “Buzz.” Meanwhile, a separate class action suit in the case was recently settled for $8 million that is supposed to fund privacy projects. The problem with the settlement is that Google had veto power over the organizations that receive the money. Many are groups that already receive money from the Internet giant. Groups that have been persistent Google critics were rejected. However, many of them are expected to object to the judge.
Consumer Watchdog has been working to protect consumers’ online privacy rights and educate them about the issues through its Inside Google Project. The goal has been to convince Google of the social and economic importance of giving consumers control over their online lives. By persuading Google, the Internet’s leading company, to adopt adequate guarantees, its policies could become the gold standard for privacy for the industry, potentially improving the performance of the entire online sector.
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Consumer Watchdog, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization with offices in Washington, DC and Santa Monica, Ca. Consumer Watchdog’s website is www.ConsumerWatchdog.org. Visit our new Google Privacy and Accountability Project website: http://insidegoogle.com.