Google really has lost whatever ethics it may have once had1 and should really have to pay a price for their latest lapse. Especially since Google and the Federal Trade Commission had an arrangement already, and Google violated it within weeks…
The Stanford privacy researcher who first uncovered Google evading the default privacy settings for all users of Apple’s Safari web browser believes that the Federal Trade Commission has a “slam dunk” case that Google violated its privacy agreement with the government.
“The facts in this case are unusually clear cut,” Jonathan Mayer, a grad student in computer science and law and a researcher at the Stanford Law Center for Internet and Society, in a phone interview with TPM.
The settlement, first struck in October 2011 , was the result of the FTC’s year-long privacy investigation into Google over its failed Google Buzz social network. The FTC concluded that Google had indeed misled users and violated their privacy and subjected Google to 20 years worth of privacy audits and ordered that Google no longer “misrepresent” its privacy settings to users. If Google violates any of the terms of the settlement, the FTC can slap the company with a $16,000 civil fine for every day that the company violated any of the terms.
On Thursday night, The Journal reported that the FTC “is examining whether Google’s actions violated last year’s legal settlement,” and another regulatory body in France (the CNIL) and several states attorneys general were also investigating Google over the practice and could levy fines of their own.
(click here to continue reading FTC Has ‘Slam Dunk’ Case Against Google, Privacy Researcher Says | TPM Idea Lab.)
and from the WSJ:
In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission is examining whether Google’s actions violated last year’s legal settlement with the government in which Google pledged not to “misrepresent” its privacy practices to consumers, according to people familiar with the investigation.
The fine for violating the agreement is $16,000 per violation, per day. Because millions of people were affected, any fine could add up quickly, depending on how it is calculated. The FTC declined to comment.
A group of state attorneys general, including New York’s Eric Schneiderman and Connecticut’s George Jepsen, are also investigating Google’s circumvention of Safari’s privacy settings, according to people familiar with the investigation. State attorneys general can have the ability to levy fines of up to $5,000 per violation.
In Europe, the French Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés, or CNIL, has added the Safari circumvention technique to its existing pan-European investigation into Google’s privacy-policy changes, according to a person close to the investigation. The CNIL is the agency that levied a €100,000 ($130,960) fine on Google last year for collecting passwords and other personal information when Google vehicles were gathering information for its Street View map service.
(click here to continue reading Google Faces New Privacy Probes – WSJ.com.)
Google power and deep pockets shouldn’t be enough to evade the law, the FTC should make an example of Google, and really bring the hammer down.Footnotes:
- perhaps it never had ethics and was just better at covering up its questionable decisions. No matter [↩]