Just under two weeks ago, I wrote about The Electronic Privacy Information Center’s (EPIC) lawsuit against the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to force the federal agency to punish Google for breaking terms of its settlement with the agency. To get fully caught up or to refresh your memory, please go back and read through two of my posts discussing this lawsuit and then return back to this one: click here and here
Alright, so the federal court asked the FTC to submit their response to the lawsuit filed by EPIC by Friday, February 17th, 2012. The FTC did get back to the court by that date and basically told the court that they want the lawsuit to be dismissed because EPIC has no right to tell the FTC how to do their job. The FTC made no mention of whether or not EPIC is correct in wanting to punish Google for violating the consent order – the agency just wants EPIC not to force it to take action against Google. If the federal agency is going to take actions against Google, it wants to do it on its own. An FTC spokeswoman, Claudia Farrell, said:
“We are asking the court to dismiss the case because parties such as EPIC are barred by law from interfering with the proper investigation and enforcement of F.T.C. orders”
The issue here is that the agency is arguing that since EPIC was not a party to the settlement agreement between Google and the FTC – it should have no say whatsoever in how Google should be scrutinized. The FTC wants to reserve to right to make decisions under its own discretion.
The FTC believes that the involvement of public interest groups, business competitors, and other kinds of groups imposing themselves into the business of the FTC will give too much power to these groups. However, EPIC is arguing that the Federal Trade Commission Act creates a non-discretionary duty for the FTC to act on violations of consent orders. EPIC just wants the FTC to acknowledge the obvious violations by Google and punish Google quicker because time is of the essence here since Google vowed that it would start consolidating and further monetize personal data of its users starting March 1st. Epic’s executive director, Marc Rotenberg, said:
“There can be no question that the Federal Trade Commission has a duty to enforce its final order in the Google matter”
The FTC should get its act together and do the right thing here. Stop stalling for time and getting your feelings hurt because an advocacy group is telling you how to do your job better. EPIC does not want to “deprive the Commission of the discretion to exercise its enforcement authority“; it just wants the agency to see the obvious and then appropriately act on it swiftly.
The irony is that the same day the FTC filed an opposition and a motion to dismiss EPIC’s lawsuit, the Wall Street Journal exposed Google for spying on Apple users.
EPIC is expected to respond to the federal court tomorrow, February 21st.