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Groups line up to file FTC privacy complaints against Google

Groups line up to file FTC privacy complaints against Google

The Center for Digital Democracy calls on the FTC to halt the proposed changes scheduled for March 1

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The US Federal Trade Commission should force Google to halt its plan to consolidate user identities across its services and fine the company for violating an October privacy settlement with the agency, privacy group the Center for Digital Democracy said in a complaint filed Wednesday.

Google is not making the changes to its privacy policy to provide convenience to users, as it claims, but to better track them and deliver targeted advertising, the CDD complaint said. "Google has communicated its real plans to expand data targeting throughout all it services, and to better compete against Facebook, to its advertising customers," said Jeffrey Chester, CDD's executive director. "They have failed to tell the truth to consumers."

The FTC should require Google to "accurately and honestly" inform users about the reason for the changes, Chester wrote in his complaint.

Privacy changes would repeat Buzz's problems

Even though Google has not yet rolled out the privacy changes, its plans violate an FTC settlement over Google's aborted Buzz rollout, Chester said. The Buzz settlement allows the FTC to assess fines of US$16,000 (£10,211) per violation and applies to "future actions," according to the FTC.

The plan, announced in January, is "a digital fait accompli, so to speak," Chester said.

Google defended the changes. The updated privacy policy "will make our privacy practices easier to understand, and it reflects our desire to create a seamless experience for our signed-in users," the company said in a statement. "We’ve undertaken the most extensive notification effort in Google’s history, and we’re continuing to offer choice and control over how people use our services. Of course we are happy to discuss this approach with regulators globally."

An FTC representative said the agency has received the complaint but would not comment further.

Other privacy groups have also complained about the proposed changes. Earlier this month, the Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a lawsuit against the FTC for the agency's alleged failure to enforce the privacy settlement.

Google could share info with Vivaki despite previous settlement

The CDD complaint is not related to recent reports that Google has changed the privacy settings in the Safari and Internet Explorer browsers in order to install cookies. CDD doesn't plan to file a complaint about those reports, but is instead focused on the proposed changes to the company's privacy policy, Chester said.

Google plans to roll out the changes on 1 March. Chester called on the FTC to act quickly to block the privacy changes, and he called on Google to delay the changes until an FTC investigation can be completed.

Google will use the new privacy practices to collect more personal data about YouTube, smartphone and computer users so that the company can deliver more personalised ads, the CDD complaint said. Google has rolled out several new initiatives in the past year focused on delivering better targeted ads, the complaint said.

The FTC settlement requires Google to get "express affirmative consent" from users before sharing their personal information with third parties, and the new privacy policy will allow Google to share more information with Vivaki, a targeted ad company that Google announced a partnership with in November, the complaint said.


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  • stan chaz NOW you start to worry about privacy After youve disclosed anything and everything via Facebook Gmail Twitter and assorted searches You are for sale and the price is your soul Dont worry it wont hurt a bit
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