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DC Circuit Orders FTC Response to Google Privacy Policy Suit

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By Dyanna Quizon, Esq. on February 13, 2012 3:09 PM

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has given the Federal Trade Commission a week to file a response to a lawsuit against search giant Google's new privacy policy.

The D.C. Circuit's decision to expedite the case came two days after the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a lawsuit against the FTC last Wednesday. EPIC reportedly contends that Google's new privacy policy violates Google's settlement with the FTC over previous allegations of privacy invasion.

Instead of suing Google, however, EPIC is seeking a court order forcing the FTC to take action against Google to prevent the launch of its publicized privacy policy, which is set to roll out on March 1.

Changes to Google's privacy policy have drawn a lot of attention due to its announcement that it will begin to aggregate information across more than 60 products, and the inability of users to opt out of Google's plan.

Google has argued that a user's data across all of the Google products he or she uses will allow the company to provide a more personalized platform for the user. However, there's always a personal benefit for Google - in this case, the ability to sell more targeted ads.

Data integration has unsurprisingly raised the ire of privacy advocates such as EPIC, which argues that aggregating data goes beyond user consent and violates Google's settlement with the FTC over the launch of Google Buzz. The only way to reportedly opt out of Google's new way of tracking information is to delete the account.

"Even if the company believes that tracking users across all platforms improves their services, consumers should still have the option to opt out - especially the kids and teens who are avid users of YouTube, Gmail and Google Search," Common Sense Media chief executive James Steyer said in an interview.

It will be up to the courts, (or the FTC if the court so orders), whether Google's new privacy policy violates its Google Buzz settlement, but it seems the D.C. Circuit has decided to give the parties involved an answer sooner rather than later.

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