A federal judge has allowed a public interest group to challenge a $22.5 million fine Google agreed to pay earlier this month to settle allegations that it violated a consent decree it reached last year with the Federal Trade Commission related to violations of its privacy policies.
Google has agreed to pay $22.5 million to settle allegations that it violated its privacy promises by bypassing the privacy settings of users of Apple’s Safari Internet browser in order to track them, the Federal Trade Commission said on Thursday.
John Simpson with Consumer Watchdog, which along with Chester’s group and other privacy advocates is backing the EFF/Mozilla proposal, argues that the industry’s proposal “has so many loopholes it’s meaningless.”
“The real question is how much influence companies like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Facebook will have in their inevitable attempt to water down the rules that are implemented and render them essentially meaningless. I am skeptical about the ‘multi-stakeholder process’, but am willing to make a good faith effort to try,” John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog said in a statement.
“Once Google and Facebook are following European rules, there will be no way for the companies to justify the obviously inadequate protection in the U.S.,” John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog, a vocal Google critic, said in a statement. Google has come under fire after it said Tuesday that it plans to begin tracking users and collecting data about them as they move from one Google service to another.
“This study proves that personally identifiable information is regularly shared without consumers’ knowledge,” Consumer Watchdog’s John Simpson told a forum on Tuesday. “We can’t rely on industry promises to protect consumer privacy; clearly, we need do-not-track legislation, and we need it now.”
Consumer Watchdog plans to deploy a group of mimes wearing white track suits emblazoned with Google’s “Don’t Be Evil” motto Wednesday, just as Google Chairman Eric Schmidt is set to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The mimes will mercilessly track senators and their staffers as they move through the Dirksen Senate office building..
The American Consumer Institute and Consumer Watchdog, a frequent Google critic, also applauded a potential antitrust probe of Google. “The time for an antitrust probe is long past due, and I’m optimistic the FTC investigation will lead to necessary remedies that will ensure competition in the market,” Consumer Watchdog’s John Simpson said.
A frequent Google critic Thursday called on the House co-chairmen of the Congressional Privacy Caucus to push for hearings into Google’s request for the last four digits of the Social Security numbers from children seeking to participate in an art contest the Internet firm sponsored.
Consumer Watchdog’s John Simpson said that Stearns’s effort “shows that protecting online privacy is a bipartisan issue that resonates on both sides of the aisle. Privacy may be one of the areas where Congress can get something done this session.”
While pleased that the agency is bringing attention to the need to do more to protect consumer privacy online, representatives from five privacy groups said in a conference call that the report’s proposed measures are too focused on industry self regulation. It’s a “Christmas gift to the data collection industry from the Obama administration,” according to John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog.
Four public interest groups filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission Tuesday urging the agency to investigate whether those offering online health information and services are engaging in unfair and deceptive advertising practices.
Consumer Watchdog, one of Google’s most persistent critics called on the House Energy and Commerce Committee Thursday to hold a hearing into the firm’s Wi-Fi data collection controversy, citing a discrepancy in a Google official’s testimony on the matter during a Senate hearing in June.