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Why FTC's $22.5m Google Privacy-Fine is Faux Accountability

If one fact-checks and puts in perspective the FTC's expected $22.5m privacy fine of Google -- for bypassing millions of Apple Safari users' privacy and security settings to add a tracking cookie to track users browsing activity -- it looks like faux FTC accountability of Google. Close scrutiny of the FTC's oversight record of Google's exceptionally bad consumer record and very long privacy rap sheet suggests that Google could have little to fear from the FTC on pending privacy or antitrust enforcement going forward, despite PR and optics to the contrary. Unfortunately, the evidence to date indicates the FTC's enforcement oversight of Google has had minimal accountability or deterrent effect on Google's behavior.

To be fair to the FTC, the FTC does not have all the legal authority it needs to fully address the Google privacy enforcement problem, but that being acknowledged, many poor FTC decisions have further self-limited the FTC's ability to confront the exceptional Google enforcement problem.

I. Google appears to enjoy faux FTC Accountability.

In Sao Paulo Brazil Launching My Search & Destroy Book in Portuguese -- see webcast

I am in Sao Paulo Brazil for the formal launch of the book I wrote with Ira Brodsky, Search & Destroy: Why You Can't Trust Google Inc., which now has been translated into Portuguese for the Brazilian market.

The book launch press conference will be webcast live from a top Sao Paulo bookstore, Livraria de Vila, at 10:00 am EST Tuesday July 3rd, which will be attended by journalists, academics, students, and the public who will hear about the book and Google's adverse impact on privacy, competition, and intellectual property.

My presentation will be webcast live at the Portuguese Search & Destroy site, Busque e Destrua, here.

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In May 2012, Search & Destroy was also published in Korean for the South Korean market.

The English version can be found here.

 

 

 

Google's Privacy Rap Sheet

Compare Google's privacy record over the last decade here with Google's public representations below to determine for yourself if they match up.

Top Ten Untrue Google Stories

The FCC's Google Street View wiretapping investigation proved that Google's public representations it was just a mistake one rogue engineer -- that the FTC and foreign law enforcement relied upon to close their investigations -- were untrue. Going forward, law enforcement must remember the old adage: "fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me."

I. Top Ten List of Untrue Google stories

Google's Poor & Defiant Settlement Record

Google's poor and defiant track record in respecting government agreements and settlements is likely one of the reasons the FTC hired an undefeated former Federal prosecutor and litigator to lead their Google antitrust probe and potential litigation against Google. The EU and the FTC are naturally exceptionally skeptical about negotiating an antitrust settlement with Google, given the substantial evidence that shows Google is consistently less-than-trustworthy in abiding by its agreements with Governments.

Specifically, the evidence shows that Google has not abided by either of its privacy agreements with the FTC concerning Street-View WiSpy or Google-Buzz, nor has Google fully-abided by its criminal Non-Prosecution-Agreement with the DOJ concerning its advertising of illegal prescription drug imports. In addition, Google attempted to broadly game the justice system in negotiating a Google Book Settlement that would have rewarded it with a partial monopoly for its mass copyright infringement.

Consumer Groups' Advocacy Hypocrisy

Consumer groups by definition are supposed to be protecting consumers' interests -- not be pushing a special interest political agenda under the guise of the "public interest." Let's spotlight a recent and blatant hypocrisy whereby consumer groups near-completely ignored an instance of obvious widespread consumer harm (the FCC's proposed fine of Google for obstructing its Street View wiretapping investigation), while in another contemporaneous issue, consumer groups gang-pummeled a non-issue to push a political Internet commons agenda (strongly objecting to Comcast's new market offering where XBox usage does not apply to a user's 250 Gig monthly data cap.)

Google Street View Wiretapping: Why is Google obstructing a Federal wiretapping investigation affecting the privacy of literally tens of millions of American households' -- not a consumer protection issue? How come consumer groups routinely and loudly call for FCC investigations of broadband companies' legal marketplace actions, but are silent on the obvious obstruction of a Federal investigation into Google allegedly being involved in potentially the largest wiretapping and mass invasion of citizens' privacy by a corporation in U.S. history? How is it in consumers' interest for the government to not be able to determine if Google actually violated Federal law or not?

Google's Privacy Excuse Algorithm Team - a Satire

Memo: To All Google Spokespeople

From: Brandi Sparkles & the Privacy Excuse Algorithm Team (PEAT)

RE: The New Google Public Line on FTC/State/EU Privacy Investigations

Google has changed the company's public line concerning our inadvertent, unintentional, un-anticipatable, accidental, unexpected, unwitting, un-premeditated, unconscious, and totally innocent bypassing of Apple Safari browser's privacy protections, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal February 19th, and which is now being investigated by the FTC, State Attorneys General, and the EU per the WSJ today.

State Dept. Adopting Google Chrome -- What are they thinking?

Count me as totally perplexed how the supposedly-security-minded U.S. State Department could decide to adopt security-challenged Google's Chrome browser for worldwide use by the State Department. What are they thinking?

Chrome is a consumer-grade, ad-supported, tracking-driven browser. By design Chrome has an advertising default omni-tracking capability inappropriate for Federal Government secret classified work. For the first time only last week, Google begrudgingly committed to offering a voluntary do-not-track capability for Chrome by the end of 2012 as part of the White House brokered Online Privacy Bill of Rights. However, will Google respect the State Department's right to secrecy? That's a very fair question given that…

Google's Top 35 Privacy Scandals

Since Privacy International ranked Google worst in the world for Privacy in its 2007 privacy survey for its unique “comprehensive consumer surveillance & entrenched hostility to privacy,” Google has had at least 24 more public scandals/controversies over privacy/security.

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths