Google Responded To the FTC On Privacy Issues Before EPIC Sued

    February 10, 2012

Yesterday we brought you news that the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) had filed a federal suit against the FTC in order to block Google’s switch to a new, unified privacy policy that would cover all their services. EPIC claimed that the new policy violated a 2011 consent order that prohibited Google from combining user data without consent.

Google, however, insisted that the suit was groundless, saying that “EPIC is wrong on the facts and the law.” Late yesterday afternoon, the court agreed to expedite the case, giving the FTC until February 17th to respond to the suit, and EPIC until the 21st to file their reply to the FTC.

Now it looks like Google may have been ahead of the game the entire time. Politico is reporting this afternoon that they have managed to get hold of a report Google filed with the FTC on January 26th detailing the company’s compliance with the very consent order that EPIC insists their new privacy policy violates.The report details the steps that Google has undertaken to maintain the privacy of their users and to ensure that users are properly notified of the changes to Google’s policy. The report describes an “aggressive notification process” that Google intends to use “to promote user awareness of the current terms of teh Google Privacy Policy and to present users with clear information in order to exercise meaningful choice regarding their continued use of Google services.”

The report walks through the provisions of the consent order step by step and describes the steps Google has taken to make sure that their new privacy policy complies with it. The report is dated January 26, 2012 (two days after the initial announcement), and signed by Keith Enright, Google’s Senior Privacy Council. A copy of the report can be found here.