Consumer Watchdog announced today that it has won the right to oppose the recently announced $22.5 million Google settlement with the FTC. Despite the fact that this was the largest fine the FTC has ever given a single company, and that the FTC was gloating about the victory, Consumer Watchdog doe not think the settlement is adequate.
"Google executives want to buy their way out of trouble with what for them is pocket change and then deny doing anything wrong," said Consumer Watchdog Privacy Project director John M. Simpson. "Allowing this settlement undercuts the entire regulatory process. Companies and their executives must be held accountable when they violate legal agreements."
A judge has granted the group the right to oppose the settlement, and to file an amicus, or friend of the court, brief. The order granted on Tuesday, gave Google and the FTC a week to respond, and a hearing will be granted once the judge receives all the legal papers, if she deems them necessary.
United States District Judge Susan Illston said in her order granting Consumer Watchdog's motion, "Nonparty Consumer Watchdog has filed a motion for leave to file an amicus curiae brief in opposition to the proposed stipulated order of the parties. The Court GRANTS the request, and directs that the amicus brief be filed no later than September 21, 2012. The parties may file reply briefs by September 28, 2012. After review of the briefing, the Court will schedule a hearing if necessary."
"How can a settlement be in the public interest, when the guilty party gets to deny they did anything wrong?" Simpson asked.
The group filed a complaint back in February about Google violating the "Buzz Consent Agreement" with the FTC, following the discovery of what came to be known as "Safari-gate".