Welcome!

Wearables Authors: Shelly Palmer, William Schmarzo, AppDynamics Blog, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White

News Feed Item

Consumer Watchdog Calls On Federal Trade Commission To Act Against Google's App Store Privacy Violations; Says Penalties Should Be In Billions of Dollars

Public Interest Group Also Asks California Attorney General to Investigate

Dial into news conference at 2 pm ET (11 am PT): 800-920-7487 - Dial-In Code: 65248697#

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Feb. 25, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Consumer Watchdog today called on the Federal Trade Commission to act immediately against Google's most recent privacy violation – sharing users' personal information with apps developers – and said the penalties for violating a previous consent order should reach into the billions of dollars.

Consumer Watchdog also asked California Attorney General Kamala Harris to investigate whether Google's privacy breach also violates California law in addition to violating the so-called "Buzz Consent Order" with the FTC.

"Google has become a serial privacy abuser and the FTC must change its tactics to curb the Internet giant's abuses. Google's wanton disregard for its obligations under the law demonstrate the need for meaningful penalties – in this case a fine in the billions of dollars," said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog's Privacy Project director, at a news conference to discuss the nonprofit, nonpartisan public interest group's complaint.

In a seven-page formal letter of complaint to Charles A. Harwood, the FTC's Acting Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, Simpson, wrote:

"To no one's surprise (and the Commission's prior statements notwithstanding), the press is now awash in reports that Google has violated the Buzz Order yet again – and this time in a most substantive and egregious manner, by giving personal and closely held information from tens (if not hundreds) of millions of Android users to independent and unrestrained application developers, in contravention of Google's own stated privacy policy (as well as its obligations under the Buzz Order).  This represents the fifth significant misuse of confidential user data by Google in the last three years (previously, the "Wi-Spy" scandal, the Google Buzz fiasco, Google's improper combining and use of personal data, and the Safari Hacking episode)."

Read Consumer Watchdog's letter to the FTC here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/ltrftc022513.pdf

Consumer Watchdog's letter said Google had been sending to app developers personal information about each user who purchased an app from Google, without obtaining the user's permission. The personal information sent by Google included the users' names, certain physical address information and email addresses. Neither Apple nor Microsoft had engaged in similar conduct.  Consumer Watchdog's letter warned:

"Google's conduct constitutes a most serious breach of user privacy.  Google Play apps deal with sensitive personal subjects, including health conditions and sexual activity.  By disclosing personal user information to app developers, Google enables the identification of people who downloaded apps such as:

  • "Depression App Counselor:  an app designed to help people suffering from depression to manage their symptoms.
  • "Pregnancy+:  an app for expectant parents.
  • "Heart Disease:  an app for people concerned that they are at risk of heart disorders.
  • "Utoopi:  a former app (now removed) 'used for the purposes of advertising, soliciting and recruiting sex workers.'

"Many Google app developers are young people.  Google's disclosure of personal user information to these developers makes it possible for them to further disseminate the information.  App developers can, for example, sell lists of customers to marketing services and data brokers – who will, in turn, sell the information to others."

Consumer Watchdog's letter noted that the group had gone to court to block the FTC's $22.5 million settlement with Google in the "Safari Hacking episode" because it "was inadequate to deter future Google violations of the Buzz Order because the settlement lacked a court injunction proscribing future violations, contained an express denial of liability by Google, and imposed a manifestly inadequate civil penalty."

Consumer Watchdog said now that Google has once again breached the Buzz Consent Order, the FTC must use new tactics.

"The strategy of initiating enforcement procedures by proposing a settlement followed by secret negotiations and a toothless decree has brought the Commission little beyond public condemnation.  And consumers have not been protected adequately by the Commission's enforcement actions," the letter said.  "We suggest, this time around, that the Commission begin its enforcement procedure by assigning a team of trial litigators – people who can actually conduct a trial – to the latest Google transgression and that these lawyers actually bring suit in federal court against Google for the latest violation of the Buzz Order.  The complaint should seek injunctive relief sufficient to enforce compliance to the Buzz Order through contempt actions, as well as an appropriate civil penalty – which, as we explain below, will run into the billions of dollars."

The law provides a penalty of $16,000 per violation.  Millions of apps have been purchased and downloaded.  "Calculating the amount of the penalty is a simple matter of multiplication.  The number is enormous (in the billions of dollars), and only a penalty of that magnitude will deter Google from future violation of the Buzz Order," Consumer Watchdog's letter said.

The letter recapped Google's privacy violations over the last three years including the Wi-Spy scandal, the Buzz fiasco, Google's improper combining data across services without consent and the Safari Hacking episode.  The letter spelled out how the FTC's actions and tactics have proved inadequate in an attempt to thwart Google's abuses against privacy.

Gary Reback, an attorney with Carr & Ferrel, in Menlo Park, CA., assisted Consumer Watchdog in preparing its formal complaint to the FTC.

Read Consumer Watchdog's letter to the FTC here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/ltrftc022513.pdf

Visit our website at www.consumerwatchdog.org

SOURCE Consumer Watchdog

More Stories By PR Newswire

Copyright © 2007 PR Newswire. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PRNewswire content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of PRNewswire. PRNewswire shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

@ThingsExpo Stories
"There's a growing demand from users for things to be faster. When you think about all the transactions or interactions users will have with your product and everything that is between those transactions and interactions - what drives us at Catchpoint Systems is the idea to measure that and to analyze it," explained Leo Vasiliou, Director of Web Performance Engineering at Catchpoint Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York Ci...
I wanted to gather all of my Internet of Things (IOT) blogs into a single blog (that I could later use with my University of San Francisco (USF) Big Data “MBA” course). However as I started to pull these blogs together, I realized that my IOT discussion lacked a vision; it lacked an end point towards which an organization could drive their IOT envisioning, proof of value, app dev, data engineering and data science efforts. And I think that the IOT end point is really quite simple…
A critical component of any IoT project is what to do with all the data being generated. This data needs to be captured, processed, structured, and stored in a way to facilitate different kinds of queries. Traditional data warehouse and analytical systems are mature technologies that can be used to handle certain kinds of queries, but they are not always well suited to many problems, particularly when there is a need for real-time insights.
Big Data, cloud, analytics, contextual information, wearable tech, sensors, mobility, and WebRTC: together, these advances have created a perfect storm of technologies that are disrupting and transforming classic communications models and ecosystems. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Erik Perotti, Senior Manager of New Ventures on Plantronics’ Innovation team, provided an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it ...
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
Extracting business value from Internet of Things (IoT) data doesn’t happen overnight. There are several requirements that must be satisfied, including IoT device enablement, data analysis, real-time detection of complex events and automated orchestration of actions. Unfortunately, too many companies fall short in achieving their business goals by implementing incomplete solutions or not focusing on tangible use cases. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products...
Is your aging software platform suffering from technical debt while the market changes and demands new solutions at a faster clip? It’s a bold move, but you might consider walking away from your core platform and starting fresh. ReadyTalk did exactly that. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, will discuss why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and over a decade of audio conferencing product development to start an innovati...
WebRTC is bringing significant change to the communications landscape that will bridge the worlds of web and telephony, making the Internet the new standard for communications. Cloud9 took the road less traveled and used WebRTC to create a downloadable enterprise-grade communications platform that is changing the communication dynamic in the financial sector. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Leo Papadopoulos, CTO of Cloud9, discussed the importance of WebRTC and how it enables companies to focus...
SYS-CON Events announced today that 910Telecom will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Housed in the classic Denver Gas & Electric Building, 910 15th St., 910Telecom is a carrier-neutral telecom hotel located in the heart of Denver. Adjacent to CenturyLink, AT&T, and Denver Main, 910Telecom offers connectivity to all major carriers, Internet service providers, Internet backbones and ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that LeaseWeb USA, a cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LeaseWeb is one of the world's largest hosting brands. The company helps customers define, develop and deploy IT infrastructure tailored to their exact business needs, by combining various kinds cloud solutions.
Manufacturers are embracing the Industrial Internet the same way consumers are leveraging Fitbits – to improve overall health and wellness. Both can provide consistent measurement, visibility, and suggest performance improvements customized to help reach goals. Fitbit users can view real-time data and make adjustments to increase their activity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mark Bernardo Professional Services Leader, Americas, at GE Digital, discussed how leveraging the Industrial Internet a...
The cloud market growth today is largely in public clouds. While there is a lot of spend in IT departments in virtualization, these aren’t yet translating into a true “cloud” experience within the enterprise. What is stopping the growth of the “private cloud” market? In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Nara Rajagopalan, CEO of Accelerite, explored the challenges in deploying, managing, and getting adoption for a private cloud within an enterprise. What are the key differences between wh...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Venafi, the Immune System for the Internet™ and the leading provider of Next Generation Trust Protection, will exhibit at @DevOpsSummit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Venafi is the Immune System for the Internet™ that protects the foundation of all cybersecurity – cryptographic keys and digital certificates – so they can’t be misused by bad guys in attacks...
The best-practices for building IoT applications with Go Code that attendees can use to build their own IoT applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Indraneel Mitra, Senior Solutions Architect & Technology Evangelist at Cognizant, provided valuable information and resources for both novice and experienced developers on how to get started with IoT and Golang in a day. He also provided information on how to use Intel Arduino Kit, Go Robotics API and AWS IoT stack to build an application tha...
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings in the last year, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their back-end AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT – especially in the connected home and office. Amazon is extending its reach by building on its dominant Cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strategy, recently announced Replenishment Services, the Echo/Alexa voice recognition control platform, the 6-7 strategic...
IoT generates lots of temporal data. But how do you unlock its value? You need to discover patterns that are repeatable in vast quantities of data, understand their meaning, and implement scalable monitoring across multiple data streams in order to monetize the discoveries and insights. Motif discovery and deep learning platforms are emerging to visualize sensor data, to search for patterns and to build application that can monitor real time streams efficiently. In his session at @ThingsExpo, ...
For basic one-to-one voice or video calling solutions, WebRTC has proven to be a very powerful technology. Although WebRTC’s core functionality is to provide secure, real-time p2p media streaming, leveraging native platform features and server-side components brings up new communication capabilities for web and native mobile applications, allowing for advanced multi-user use cases such as video broadcasting, conferencing, and media recording.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ) and Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) have entered into a definitive agreement under which Verizon will acquire Yahoo's operating business for approximately $4.83 billion in cash, subject to customary closing adjustments. Yahoo informs, connects and entertains a global audience of more than 1 billion monthly active users** -- including 600 million monthly active mobile users*** through its search, communications and digital content products. Yahoo also co...
There will be new vendors providing applications, middleware, and connected devices to support the thriving IoT ecosystem. This essentially means that electronic device manufacturers will also be in the software business. Many will be new to building embedded software or robust software. This creates an increased importance on software quality, particularly within the Industrial Internet of Things where business-critical applications are becoming dependent on products controlled by software. Qua...
In addition to all the benefits, IoT is also bringing new kind of customer experience challenges - cars that unlock themselves, thermostats turning houses into saunas and baby video monitors broadcasting over the internet. This list can only increase because while IoT services should be intuitive and simple to use, the delivery ecosystem is a myriad of potential problems as IoT explodes complexity. So finding a performance issue is like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.