Submission Number: 00264
Received: 5/2/2011 12:00:00 AM
Commenter: Momin Malik
State: Rhode Island
Agency: Federal Trade Commission
Initiative: Proposed Consent Agreement In the Matter Google, Inc. (Google Buzz), File No. 1023136
Attachments: No Attachments
To the FTC,
I am submitting this comment on the proposed consent order, In the Matter of Google Inc., File No. 1023136, between the FTC and Google. The consent order comes as a result of the complaint filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center ("EPIC") regarding the privacy breach to Gmail users caused by Google Buzz.
In addition to the concerns listed in the form letter, with which I completely agree, I would like to make a comment about the rhetoric taken by Google (and other companies who do marketing) that present tailored ads as a convenience developed for the benefit of consumers (e.g., targeting is 'to help you see more relevant ads'). The logic of such statements, I think, is completely out of sync with consumer preferences; tailored ads are certainly not something I desire. And based on a 2009 article by Turow et al, "Americans Reject Tailored Advertising and Three Activities that Enable It" (http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1478214), it appears I am in the majority.
Anytime such pro-consumer rhetoric is used as a justification by any company for its actions, I urge the FTC to react with extreme skepticism.
Furthermore, I am concerned, as reported by the Wall Street Journal (http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2011/04/01/winners-in-google-buzz-suit-aclu-and-ymca-not-privacy-group/), that Google has used its discretion in distributing funds to exclude EPIC from benefiting from the settlement over Google Buzz. I completely agree with the statements about EPIC quoted in this article, that no organization is more deserving of sharing in the settlement. EPIC should not only share in the settlement, but should receive an amount commensurate to its importance in bringing this matter to the attention of the FTC.
I agree with all recommendations suggested on the EPIC the form letter, but I find the following especially important:
- Be transparent as to what data Google collects on users
- Not disclose user data to law enforcement without a warrant
- Allow users to use Google services anonymously
- Be transparent as to what data it collects on users
- Allow users to control the information Google collects on them