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Consumer watchdog files suit to block Google privacy changes

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) [advocacy website], a consumer privacy group, filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF; press release] Wednesday in the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] asking that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) [official website] block Google's [corporate website] proposed privacy policy changes [text]. EPIC alleged that the changes to the privacy policy are in violation of a settlement [JURIST report] reached by the FTC and Google in October over a breach of consumer privacy rights and misleading consumers during the launch of Google Buzz, a social networking service. EPIC claims that Google violated the settlement:

by misrepresenting the extent to which it maintains and protects the privacy and confidentiality of covered information[,] ... by failing to obtain affirmative consent from users prior to sharing their information with third parties [and] ... by failing to comply with the requirements of a comprehensive privacy program.
Epic is primarily concerned with Google's plans to share user data across its services without affirmative user consent. The new privacy policy is set to take effect March 1.

Last week, the EU's data protection authorities wrote a letter to Google asking it to delay implementation [JURIST report] of its new privacy policy. Google responded earlier this month to concerns [JURIST report] of US Congressmen about the new policy as well. It responded to 11 questions posed in a letter sent by the Congressmen [JURIST report] in January. Some topics of concern addressed by Google included assurance that no new types of data will be collected, reasons supporting data-sharing between Google products and an explanation of how data can be deleted by users once their accounts are closed. It also assured that it will comply with conditions of its settlement with the FTC.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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