Google $22.5M Settlement With FTC Over Privacy Criticized by Industry Group

Google $22.5M Settlement With FTC Over Privacy Criticized by Industry Group

August 09, 2012
Originally published in eWeek

From Robert J. Mullin's article in eWeek:

A group promoting competitive innovation on the Internet has criticized the FTC’s “headline-grabbing settlement” for $22.5 million with Google as a move that “will chill Internet innovation.”

The reaction from the Competitive Enterprise Institute followed the Federal Trade Commission’s Aug. 9 announcement that Google had agreed to settle with the agency over charges that it misrepresented to users of Apple’s Safari Web browser that it would not place tracking “cookies” or serve targeted ads to those users. The FTC said it took action after Google violated a previous settlement with the agency over the same issue.

While privacy advocacy groups applauded the decision as a strong signal that consumer online privacy should be protected, the decision sets “a dangerously overbroad precedent that will chill Internet innovation and hurt online startups,” the Institute said in a statement.

“Google’s only mistake here was failing to realize a software tweak by Apple rendered one of Google’s help pages inaccurate,” said Ryan Radia, associate director of the Center for Technology & Innovation at the Institute. “There is no evidence that any users were ... harmed by this inaccurate help page, nor does the FTC allege that Google knew or should have known that its help page was wrong.”