Following EPIC Complaint, FTC Acknowledges Review of Google Consent Order

The FTC confirmed this week that it is investigating Google's compliance with the 2011 consent order. EPIC sent a letter to the FTC last week urging the Commission to determine whether Google violated the consent order following a report that Google tracked user location even when users opt-out. EPIC explained that modifying the "privacy policy" after obtaining the location data from users would not comply with the FTC's consent order. In the response to EPIC, the agency said that FTC attorneys monitor compliance with the agency's consumer protection orders and "the Google order is undergoing just such a review." The 2011 settlement with Google followed a detailed complaint brought by EPIC and a coalition of consumer organizations. The groups charged that Google had engaged in unfair and deceptive trade practices when it changed the privacy settings of Gmail users and opted them into Google Buzz. The FTC agreed with the consumer groups, Google entered into a settlement, and Buzz was shuttered. FTC chairman John Liebowitz said at the time, "When companies make privacy pledges, they need to honor them. This is a tough settlement that ensures that Google will honor its commitments to consumers and build strong privacy protections into all of its operations."

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