Google Privacy Changes Must Be Stopped, Argues Lawsuit Seeking FTC Action

Google’s plan to streamline privacy policies for some 60 different services and products March 1 would allow the company to combine more information about users, reduce users’ control of their own data and give more personal information to advertisers, the Electronic Privacy Information Center said. The suit seeks to compel the FTC to enforce the consent decree.

The lawsuit’s demands on the FTC could trigger a regulatory challenge to Google’s business practices at a time when the agency is already cracking down on how Internet companies collect and use consumer data. The agency’s 2011 settlement with Google over privacy, which barred sharing user data without clear permission, stemmed from a complaint filed by the advocacy group in 2010.

“To date, the FTC has failed to take any action with respect to Google’s privacy changes,” Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the group, said in the lawsuit filed today in federal court in Washington. “The consolidation of customer information across Google services is a clear misappropriation of customer information, and presents a great threat to consumer privacy.”

The filing of the lawsuit couldn’t be immediately confirmed from electronic court records.

Chris Gaither, a spokesman for Google, said the company hadn’t yet seen the filing and couldn’t comment on it.

Cecelia Prewett, a spokeswoman for the FTC, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail and phone call seeking comment on the suit.




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