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EPIC sues FTC to make Google revoke new privacy policy

updated 05:10 am EST, Fri February 10, 2012

EPIC says new Google policy in breach of FTC deal

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has sued the Federal Trade Commission for failing to stop Google from initiating recent changes to its privacy agreement with users. According to a brief statement from Epic, Google's new privacy policy is in violation of an agreement that the FTC reached with Google in March last year following the Google Buzz privacy debacle. EPIC argues that the new policy changes do not give users the an opt in or out option as it agreed to do.

Google claims that its new policy simply unifies its privacy policy across several of its key services, combining 60 separate policies into one. Although Congress also expressed some concerns about the changes, Google responded with a letter arguing that it was not a way for it to give information to third parties, but to improve services for end users by better integrating their data.

Google offered an example of how the new policy could improve services by suggesting that its new system could provide a person with reminders that he or she is going to be late for a meeting based on their location, their calendar and an understanding of what the traffic is like that day. However, critics argue that the new policy will allow Google to share too much information between services and making opting out of any one service an all-or-nothing proposition. Further, as with changes leveled at Facebook, the new privacy settings in Google's services will by default share information, forcing users to dig into the settings of each service to see what they are prepared to share.

EPIC's complaints are also aimed at Google's definition of what constitutes a 'third-party.' Google believes that as it is often crowd-sourcing its data, and not necessarily targeting that of individuals, sharing information as an intermediary means that privacy concerns are nullified. According to EPIC, if third-parties are all parties excluding Google and its subsidiaries, then Google's advertisers will benefit from being able to better target ads and gain additional information about users that it did not have previously have access to before the policy changes. [via Ars Technica]



By Electronista Staff
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