Google Faces FTC Complaint Over Changes To Privacy Policy

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The US groups Consumer Watchdog and Privacy Rights Clearinghouse have filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission against Google, claiming the company acted in an unfair and deceptive way when it changed its privacy policy earlier this year. 

The consumer groups claim Google misled users about how it would change its practices and start combining data gleaned from tracking cookies with user data in Google accounts. The company did not make clear the significance of the new 'feature' for users, and it was unclear and difficult for users to decline the changes. 

The consumer groups claim this is in violation of the FTC Act, as well as an agreement the company made with the FTC in 2011 after it inadvertently shared customer data from its social network Buzz. Consumer Watchdog and Privacy Rights Clearing House asked the FTC to claw back all advertising revenue earned by Google since the date of the change, citing past privacy violations by the internet giant as evidence that lesser penalties would not be enough to make the company respect consumers’ privacy rights. 

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