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ISPLA News: EPIC Sues Over Google Privacy Changes

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  • Peter Psarouthakis
    Litigation over planned Google privacy changes Cecilia Kang, in a Washington Post item on a Reuters article by Stephen Hird, reports that the privacy advocacy
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 9, 2012
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      Litigation over planned Google privacy changes

      Cecilia Kang, in a Washington Post item on a Reuters' article by Stephen
      Hird, reports that the privacy advocacy group Electronic Privacy and
      Information Center Wednesday filed a federal lawsuit against Google for
      ss-products-users-cant-opt-out/2012/01/24/gIQArgJHOQ_story.html> allegedly
      breaching privacy rules. EPIC in its complaint stated Google's planned
      privacy policy changes violates
      nt-in-major-privacy-matter/2011/03/30/AFxb5j2B_blog.html> a settlement the
      company reached with the FTC last summer. The agreement was reached after
      federal law enforcement found Google violated privacy laws by exposing Gmail
      users' personal information when rolling out its now defunct social
      networking service, Google Buzz.

      Starting March 1, Google intends to merge data collected from Gmail users
      with information tracked about that user across the company's 60 other
      services. Google has said the changes will only apply to users logged onto
      Gmail or other services. However, EPIC alleges that Google misrepresents how
      it plans to use the information, which would largely be for behavioral
      advertising. The claim Google also violates its FTC consent decree, by
      forcing the changes on users without the ability to opt out of the changes
      and still maintain their sign-in accounts.

      "The imminent change in Google's business practices threatens the same
      customer interests that the FTC's consent decree sought to protect," EPIC
      said in its suit filed at the U.S. District Court of the District of
      Columbia. "If the FTC does not act to prevent the change, all Google users,
      including EPIC, face an imminent harm that is both certain and great."

      The changes also concern some lawmakers, who have called on the company to
      explain the changes.
      document/files/2012/20120202_letter_google_privacy_policy_en.pdf> And the
      E.U. has asked Google to delay its rollout of new privacy policies as it
      investigates how the changes will affect consumers.

      According to the Washington Post article, EPIC filed the original complaint
      about Google Buzz privacy violations that led to the initial FTC charges.
      The FTC didn't answer specific questions about Google's new policy changes.
      However, FTC spokeswoman Claudia Farrell said, "The FTC takes compliance
      with our consent orders very seriously and always looks carefully at any
      evidence that they are being violated,"

      Google, in defending its privacy policy changes, states it isn't seeking to
      collect more information about users who can choose to use its search engine
      and YouTube without being account holders.

      "Our updated privacy policy will make it easier to understand our privacy
      commitments, and we've undertaken the most extensive notification effort in
      Google's history to ensure that users have many opportunities to learn about
      the changes," Google said in a statement.

      Bruce Hulme, ISPLA Director of Government Affairs <http://www.ispla.org/>

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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