FTC Reminds EPIC That Suing The FTC To Get It To Investigate Google Might Not Be The Best Idea

from the standing? dept

If you're unfamiliar with EPIC, it's an extremist "privacy" rights group. We've called the group out in the past for its rather ridiculous position on privacy issues. EPIC has particularly had it in for Google, which it appears to think is the evilest of evil sites and the government has to step in and stop it from collecting information to make your search experience better (even if users can block such data collection themselves). What I hadn't realized was that EPIC has such an infatuation with Google that it actually sued the FTC (pdf) to try to force it to investigate Google for its recent privacy policy change. No matter what you think of Google's privacy policy issues, it's ridiculous for EPIC to go that far, and the FTC is making that clear to the overzealous organization, pointing out that it has absolutely no standing whatsoever in terms of making the FTC do anything at all. The FTC may still investigate, but EPIC should have no part of that.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    Josef Anvil (profile), Feb 22nd, 2012 @ 7:49am

    It's too easy to pass up

    EPIC FAIL!

     

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    jilocasin, Feb 22nd, 2012 @ 7:56am

    It just might have to

    Actually, I believe that Congress has made it clear that it wants the FTC to enforce all of its _final_decisions_.

    Regardless of what you think of Google or EPIC, Google was recently called out for it's sometimes questionable privacy practices (Buzz roll out I believe). The FTC ordered and Google supposedly agreed to be bound to a Consent Order (CO) regarding to it's privacy practices. All that EPIC is doing is asking that the FTC actually enforce that Consent Order. From what I've read of the CO, what Google is planning on doing come March 1st seems to fairly blatantly go against that Consent Order.

    We can't with a straight face complain about government agencies not enforcing the rules against unsympathetic companies (RIAA/AT&T/Comcast/etc.) while at the same time giving favored companies a pass.

    Can we?

     

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      Khaim (profile), Feb 22nd, 2012 @ 8:04pm

      Re: It just might have to

      Could you explain why Google's new policy violates its CO? I don't think they're forbidden from ever changing anything, I think they're just forbidden from doing things in secret. The change in privacy policy has been the most non-secret change ever. Seriously, Google will not shut up about it. So how is it a violation?

       

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    Atkray (profile), Feb 22nd, 2012 @ 7:57am

    Looks like they are studying the RIAA playbook.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 22nd, 2012 @ 8:00am

    I think that EPIC is actually attempting to remind the FTC that they need to do their jobs - and enforce judgements and rulings on a more consistent basis.

    The FTC really does need to have a better and closer look at Google, especially with their current merging of user information.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 22nd, 2012 @ 8:11am

    Simple solution for EPICs problem: STOP using Google.

    - Replace Google search with DuckDuckGo (or something similar).
    - Dump GMail. Spend like one buck a month and get professional grade mail hosting for you and your family.
    - Stop using Google plus. In fact, just stop using social networks.

    This should drastically minimize your exposure to Google's snooping. Remember: Google isn't unique. There are others that can provide the same service.

     

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      jilocasin, Feb 22nd, 2012 @ 8:52am

      Missing the point (Re: )

      When you wrote;
      "Simple solution for EPICs problem: STOP using Google."

      You've missed the point. EPIC realizes that people aren't forced to use Google. What EPIC is complaining about is that the FTC is _supposed_ to be actually _enforcing_ Consent Orders. Why bother having an FTC if it doesn't actually _do_ anything?

      So how would EPIC switching away from using Google's products solve their problem of getting a government agency to actual enforce it's own rules?

       

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        Killercool (profile), Feb 22nd, 2012 @ 9:48am

        Re: Missing the point (Re: )

        Frankly, it seems to me EPIC is trying to claim that by changing their privacy policy (by combining/changing all privacy policies into a single policy), Google is somehow misrepresenting their privacy policy.

        I get notifications nearly every day about the imminent policy changes. I don't see how warning all of your users for at least two months before a policy change can be construed as misrepresentation.

         

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          Bengie, Feb 22nd, 2012 @ 11:19am

          Re: Re: Missing the point (Re: )

          I clicked OK without reading it. I hope I don't get my mouth sewn to someone's ass. (Southpark)

           

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    John Doe, Feb 22nd, 2012 @ 8:15am

    An epic battle between the FTC and Google?

    I think not.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 22nd, 2012 @ 8:18am

    Hey Mike- are there any other rights and privacy infringing mega-corporations you like to defend? Or just the one that's run by all the billionaires?

     

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      Skeptical Cynic (profile), Feb 22nd, 2012 @ 8:34am

      Re:

      Hey AC- Are there any other articles you would like to fail to read?

       

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      Jonny Knowit All, Feb 22nd, 2012 @ 11:14am

      Re: I hate people that make money cause I cant

      Anonymous, normally I don't even read your posts as they generally don't add much insight to the topic, however, I am glad I saw this one.

      Your comment indicates your of the group "I have no Ideas and I don't want to work for my money so give it to me anyway." My wife and I work 5-6 days a week, we have no children and we are barely making bills. Any one of these change and we are in trouble, yet we are not looking for a handout from anyone, we are not bitter toward those that are succeeding more and at the end of the day we know we earned our money and paid our debts.

      The law in this country is not "if you succeed you must be doing something wrong so we are going to send the FTC in to investigate." It is and always should be "if you are willing to put in the effort or can develop the next great idea you should profit from it.

      There are generally three types of money people, those that work for their money, those that take advantage of others for their money, and those with family money or are otherwise content with "simple life." The third category doesn't work and doesn't look for or expect money from others. The first category, is the vast majority of people in America, they work or develop ideas to generate money, some harder then others, but their money comes form a paycheck, with unreasonable bonuses or not. the second category is the most troubling and the fastest growing in the US. They are the ones willing to take unreasonable (lets face it, if you work, your employer sees your benefit as greater then your cost) advantage of the system or others. These people reside everywhere on the income scale, but most troubling is that the majority are in the bottom 50% not the top 5%. These people are the ones stealing from us everyday to line their pockets through government programs designed to help those with true need. Someone getting assistance from the government should not have a big screen TV, or a leather couch while their children sleep on the floor. These are the people that hurt us everyday as they burden us through increased taxes. Yet we are focused on the top 5%, who may avoid some taxes through planning or other loopholes but don't have the net negative impact that leechers have on us. Note, these remarks are for those taking advantage of the system, not those that rightfully need the assistance.

      As for Google, what have they done? They develop ideas that people want. If you are unhappy with giving them money, use a different service. If enough people switch, Google will cease to exist or change to adapt to opinion. However, Google is not the only company offering these services and consumers have a choice as to which service to use. The FTC should only be involved where a company with few or no competitors is taking advantage of consumers with little or no choice. Google does not fall into this category. In fact if Americans should be upset, it should be at the fact that the US government if focused on taking down American companies providing jobs in America and paying taxes in America. The FTC should be looking into the unfair practices of foreign companies doing business in the US who use child labor, underpaid employees, despicable working conditions or have moved their headquarters offshore to unfairly compete against US companies.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Feb 22nd, 2012 @ 11:17am

        Re: Re: I hate people that make money cause I cant

        Your comment indicates that you don't understand that there are many anonymous posters on this board. It also indicates that you haven't got a clue.

        Enjoy it.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Feb 22nd, 2012 @ 12:52pm

          Re: Re: Re: I hate people that make money cause I cant

          No there is only one Anonymous Coward but he/she/it/I is/am amazingly schizophrenic.

          I think EPIC should expect an FTC investigation of EPIC real soon now.

           

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        jilocasin, Feb 22nd, 2012 @ 1:40pm

        Re: Re: I hate people that make money cause I cant

        Regardless of whether or not you think companies like Google should looked into by the FTC, the fact is that they did. Google agreed to a Consent Order with the FTC. The FTC should enforce it.

        The fact that Google _used_ to keep information about you siloed but now won't _is_ a material change.

        The fact that Google will take all of the data you agreed to share with them under one set of privacy promises and _reuse_ them under another _less_ private policy is another.

        Google _won't_ let you delete or otherwise remove _all_ the data you've already shared with them under the previous policy. Even Google admits that they'll keep logs and *other_data* to 'improve their services'. Even if you ask them to delete it. So just stop using them doesn't help with the historic data.

        Finally, the 600 pink elephant in the room, Android users. What are you supposed to do if you purchased an Android phone and are locked into a contract, based on Google's prior privacy policies? Are you suggesting that you should just 'stop using Google'? And do what with your phone? Throw it away? Keep paying your monthly statements?

        Google's already backtracking on the changes for it's government contracts. A group with someone in power to look out for them. That's what the FTC is _supposed_ to be doing of the rest of us.

         

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          Khaim (profile), Feb 22nd, 2012 @ 8:15pm

          Re: Re: Re: I hate people that make money cause I cant

          It's debatable that the new policy is "less" private. Oh no, now YouTube knows that I'm the same person who searched for Britney Spears and is showing me videos of her! I mean, if I'm logged in. And was also logged in while searching.

          You agreed to let Google use your data in order to provide its services. That's axiomatic. All the new policy says is that the services can share with each other. There are no new humans that can see your data (which, for those following at home, means the number of other humans who can see your data is still zero).

          The thing about not deleting your data is more worrying, if true. However, I think you're misstating the facts a little. Sure, Google will keep general activity logs that include records of things you did, but that's just common sense. Do you expect them to comb through the vast amount of anonymous data to delete the few entries that are yours?

          As for your personal data, anything linked to your account, and anything with your name on it, that goes away shortly after you delete your account. Of course it does. Google has zero interest in creepily stalking ex-users; you leave, they burn your stuff. Why not? What would they gain by keeping it? I mean, aside from lawsuits. They'd get lots of those. But profit? I don't think so.

           

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      ChrisB (profile), Feb 22nd, 2012 @ 11:17am

      Re:

      > run by all the billionaires

      Name me one successful corporation that isn't run by billionares. That's how the free market works, you idiot. You prefer to shop with companies run by broke losers?

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 22nd, 2012 @ 1:49pm

    Considering that 36 or 38 state AGs today starting poking at Google over privacy concerns, I think that EPIC is actually on the right track.

     

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      Suzanne Lainson (profile), Feb 22nd, 2012 @ 2:24pm

      Re:

      Privacy is going to be a big battle. As people come to expect that the Internet is now theirs, they want it to run the way they want it to run. As the perception develops that the Internet is a big common, commons users are expressing opinions on how that common should be run, which includes limits on data collection.

       

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    Josh, Mar 3rd, 2012 @ 2:02pm

    What will all the out-of-work ex-Google techies do when Google is shut down? Google has been playing a massive joke on the world, its founders luxuriating in billions of dollars while they "play" poor suckers around the world. Google owns Obama and the rest of Washington, D.C. so hopefully Obama will be a one-term president which will then lead to Google's demise. Did you know that Google and Bing are the two biggest contributors to Obama's 2012 campaign super pac? Just coincidentally, Google and Bing are also the two biggest violators of user privacy. Thirty-six attorneys general just wrote to Larry Page telling him basically to go to "you know where." Two losers, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who are playing the biggest con on the world since time immemorial. How stupid is the U.S.? China and Europe make America look like the piece of poop that it has always been, because China ousted Google and Europe is currently suing Google. When will the U.S. get a brain and tell Google to get lost?

     

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      Suzanne Lainson (profile), Mar 3rd, 2012 @ 2:21pm

      Re:

      Google owns Obama and the rest of Washington, D.C. so hopefully Obama will be a one-term president which will then lead to Google's demise.

      But a Koch-purchased candidate doesn't strike me as a better alternative.

       

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