Group Files FTC Complaint Against Google for Privacy Changes
The U.S. 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.
The FTC should require Google to "accurately and honestly" inform users about the reason for the changes, Chester wrote in his complaint.
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 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 representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comments on the CDD complaint. An FTC representative didn't immediately respond, either.
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 plans to roll out the changes on March 1. 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 personalized 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.
Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.