EPIC sues FTC over Google privacy changes

Posted by Emma Woollacott

The Electronic Privacy and Information Center has launched a lawsuit against the US Federal Trade Commission, aiming to force it to stop Google going through with its planned changes to its privacy policy.

The new policy, announced last month, would allow Google to integrate all the data it holds on individuals, and is set to come into force on March 1.

However, EPIC alleges that the company's in violation of an existing agreement with the FTC over privacy. Last October, it signed a deal with the FTC agreeing, amongst other things, that it wouldn't misrepresent its privacy practices, wouldn't share data with third parties without user consent, and would clearly notify users of any proposed changes.

But, says EPIC, with its new privacy policy, Google's misrepresenting the extent to which it maintains and protects the privacy and confidentiality of covered information, and is planning to share information with third parties - advertisers - without explicit user agreement.

And the FTC should be putting a stop to it, says EPIC.

"To date, the FTC has failed to take any action with respect to Google’s imminent changes in privacy practices," reads the complaint.

"The Commission has not filed a lawsuit pursuant to the Federal Trade
Commission Act, which states that the FTC 'shall' obtain injunctive relief and recover civil penalties against companies that violate consent orders."