Charge Internet Giant Violated “Buzz Consent Agreement” and FTC Act
Google’s privacy chief, Alma Whitten, is stepping down the Internet giant confirmed Monday. Since word of her departure came out on April Fools’ Day many folks probably thought this was part of the company’s annual elaborate pranks like its “announcement” of a new service called “Google Nose.”
“Google has demonstrated an ability to out-maneuver government regulators repeatedly and ride roughshod over the privacy rights of consumers. Google continues to be disingenuous about its practices,” says John Simpson, privacy project director at US organization Consumer Watchdog.
Consumer Watchdog has criticized the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s proposed $22.5-million fine that Google might pay in connection with privacy settings on Apple’s Safari browser.
A deal that calls for Google to pay a $22.5 million civil penalty for tracking Safari users should be rejected, Consumer Watchdog argues in new court papers. “The proposed settlement is markedly unusual and deficient,” the organization says in papers filed on Friday with U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston in San Francisco.
SAN FRANCISCO – The Federal Trade Commission’s proposed $22.5 million settlement with Google for hacking past privacy settings on Apple’s Safari browser fails to include a permanent injunction against violating its “Buzz” Consent Decree with the Commission, one of three reasons it be should be rejected, Consumer Watchdog said today.
SANTA MONICA, CA — Consumer Watchdog today praised state attorneys general for voicing their concerns about Google’s changes in privacy polices and asking for a meeting with the Internet giant’s CEO Larry Page. Attorneys general from 35 other states and territories joined Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler in sending the letter. They gave Google a week to reply.
Consumer Watchdog’s John Simpson points out that personalized advertisements targeted directly to a specific user, based on user-collected information, can be “a substantial amount” more lucrative than just an anonymous ad. And with all the information Google can collect about your interests from your searches, your Google Docs, and your favorite YouTube videos, they can figure out pretty specifically what ads they should show you. “They are positioning this as streamlining privacy,” Simpson says. “But that’s just PR. It’s all about better targeting for advertisers.”
Washington, DC – Consumer Watchdog today took Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt to task today over remarks made to The Washington Post in which he claimed Google should not be the subject of antitrust review because its services are “free” and made derogatory remarks about government officials being slow, backward and greedy.
Consumer Watchdog’s scorecard is full of “evil” tally marks against Google. Some claim that Microsoft is spreading FUD, but legal woes facing Google seem to disagree that Google hasn’t crossed creepy line.
“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, in a statement. “Nothing will completely stop Google from invading users’ privacy until it gets hit where it hurts, its bank accounts.”