Ever since Google announced its decision to change its privacy policies, there’s been an ever increasing scrutiny towards the company’s way of dealing its users information. In fact, it hasn’t been such a seldom occurrence to hear about allegations against Google for monitoring its users or disclosing private information. Now, Google’s Safari cookies are to be investigated by the FTC.
Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal wrote about Google’s disregard of iPhone privacy settings that led to users’ being tracked. Basically, it seems that Google and some advertising agencies “planted code on millions of iPhones that allows the companies to track user behavior”.
Despite Google’s denial of doing such a thing, users complained and that got the attention of U.S. regulators. In fact, even three House of Representatives lawmakers urged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to start an investigation and see if last week’s allegations are a violation of the agreement Google and U.S. regulators had signed on in 2011.
Republican Representatives Cliff Stearns of Florida and Joe Barton of Texas, and Democrat Edward Markey of Massachusetts, wrote a letter to the FTC reading: “As members of the Congressional Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus, we are interested in any actions that FTC has taken or plans to take to investigate whether Google has violated the terms of its consent agreement”.
The said consent agreement prevents Google from doing several things, among which being unclear about its privacy policies. Last week, the FTC said that it took notice of the allegations against Google, but no official information regarding an investigation or penalties made it to the media.
And the three lawmakers weren’t the only one to ask for an investigation. Consumer Watchdog and the American Consumer Institute insisted the FTC do something. “Google’s willful disregard for the privacy choices of consumers and the privacy policies of Apple is a new low even for Google”, said the American Consumer Institute.
However, despite the allegations, Google stands firm on its positions. The company said that Wall Street Journal’s articles of last week “mischaracterizes what happened and why”, adding that the Safari cookies were used only “to provide features that signed-in Google users had enabled”.