Consumer Watchdog Praises European Action on Google’s New Privacy Policy, Calls For FTC To Determine If Proposed Changes Violate Consent Agreement

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SANTA MONICA, CA – Consumer Watchdog today praised European data protection authorities for asking Google to delay implementation of its new privacy and data policies and said the U.S. Federal Trade Commission should determine whether the new policies violate the terms of Google’s consent agreement with the commission.

Under the new policies, announced by Google last week, the Internet giant would combine data from different services that it had kept separate in the past.

“Google is making a huge change that weakens your privacy protection,” said John M. Simpson, Director of Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project. “I am glad the Europeans have taken the lead on this, but now it’s imperative that the FTC determine if Google has violated its consent agreement.  I think they have.   Google is using your data in a new way and not making the change on an opt-in basis as the consent agreement requires.”

Jacob Kohnstamm, chairman of the Article 29 Working Party, an association of the data commissioners from the European Union, wrote Google CEO Larry Page seeking the delay in implementing the policies, due to go into effect March 1.

“Given the wide range of services you offer, and popularity of these services, changes in your privacy policy may affect many citizens in most or all of the EU member states,” wrote Kohnstamm. “We wish to check the possible consequences for the protection of the personal data of these citizens in a coordinated procedure.”

He said the French data protection authority, the CNIL, would take the lead in the analysis.

Click here to read his letter.

Google’s consent agreement with the FTC came as a result of the “Buzz” debacle in which the Internet giant displayed users email addresses without their consent as it tried to launch a social network. Under the terms of the agreement, Google can’t use data it has collected in new ways unless users opt in to the new use.

Click here to read the consent agreement.

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Consumer Watchdog is a non-partisan U.S. public interest organization with offices in California and Washington, D.C.  For more information, visit us on the web at

John M. Simpson
John M. Simpson
John M. Simpson is an American consumer rights advocate and former journalist. Since 2005, he has worked for Consumer Watchdog, a nonpartisan nonprofit public interest group, as the lead researcher on Inside Google, the group's effort to educate the public about Google's dominance over the internet and the need for greater online privacy.

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