A U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., agreed Thursday to expedite a lawsuit filed against the Federal Trade Commission for failing to review Google's recent decision to consolidate the privacy policies governing its Web sites and services.
EPIC's lawyers asked the court to impose a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to prevent Google's new policy from going into effect March 1.
EPIC Had Sued Over Google Buzz
Under the expedited rules, the FTC is required to respond to EPIC's latest briefs by Feb. 17. EPIC's reply is then due Feb. 21.
"The FTC has a non-discretionary obligation to enforce a final order," EPIC's lawyers wrote in a new brief. "But the agency has thus far failed to take any action regarding this matter, placing the privacy interests of literally hundreds of millions Internet users at grave risk."
Last year, EPIC contested several privacy aspects of the search-engine giant's plans for Google Buzz -- an online service that would have compiled and made public a Gmail user's social-networking list based on address book and Gchat list contacts.
In response, the FTC issued a consent order in October 2011, which EPIC's lawyers contend prevents "Google from misrepresenting the company's privacy practices, requires the company to obtain users' consent before disclosing personal data, and requires the company to develop and comply with a comprehensive privacy program."
Google Declines European Pause Request
Microsoft Seeks An Edge
In its response to Kohnstamm's letter, Google said it had already pre-briefed European Union authorities about the coming changes and had no plans to delay its implementation beyond March 1.
"At no stage did any EU regulator suggest that any sort of pause would be appropriate," replied Google Global Privacy Counsel Peter Fleischer. "Since we finished these extensive briefings, we have notified over 350 million Google account holders, as well as providing highly visible notices to all our non-authenticated users."
"We take a different approach," wrote Microsoft Corporate Vice President Frank Shaw in a blog. "We work to keep you safe and secure online, to give you control over your data, and to offer you the choice of saving your information on your hard drive, in the cloud, or on both."
Posted: 2012-02-16 @ 10:18am PT