Advocacy Group Sends 16-Page Complaint To Stop Google From Misleading Users

 Yesterday, The Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) sent a 16-page complaint to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) asking the federal agency to thoroughly investigate Google and stop the company from implementing its more intrusive new privacy policy, which goes into effect March 1st.

The advocacy group wants the FTC to acknowledge that Google has broken its consent order, which the company agreed to late last year. The settlement between the FTC and Google required that Google should never deceive users again and that any changes to privacy policies should be accepted by users with their full permission (Google refused to let users opt-out of the changes to its privacy policies). The FTC can levy fines of $16,000 per day, per violation, if it concludes that a consent order has been breached.

Google claims that the changes to its privacy policies and terms of service is to simply give users a better experience online, but several privacy advocacy groups (and even 36 US Attorneys General) don’t believe Google. The combining of information is really to create a clearer profile of exactly who you are and sell that personal data to advertisers. Jeff Chester, executive director of CDD, wrote:

“Google fails to tell users in its principal privacy change communications how such data collection, profiling, and targeting practices impact — and potentially harm — their privacy…Google presents the information in a deceptive way that suggests consumers will benefit from the new policy…[Google] has sugarcoated its decision in a manner designed to mislead users…It should have informed them of cross-platform data integration for targeting and the privacy implications therein”

CDD said Google’s own research, done with Nielsen in October 2011, showed that cross-platform data gathering and targeting capabilities is required to increase advertising effectiveness across TV, PC, smartphone and tablets.

Under the consent decree Google admitted it used deceptive tactics and violated its own privacy policies when it introduced its Buzz social-networking service in 2010. The 20-year settlement with the FTC bars Google from misrepresenting how it handles information and obliges the company to follow policies that protect consumer data in new products.

Claudia Bourne Farrell, a spokeswoman for the FTC, said the agency had received the complaint and declined to comment further.

Internet users, at the very least, have the right to know the truth.

For more information, please click here and here

I would also highly recommend you read this article published on CNN by Chester Wisniewski, a senior security advisor at Sophos Inc., titled “Did Google intentionally track you?” – click here

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