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Privacy Group Wants Google Investigated by FCC

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 7 comments

If one privacy group has their way, search giant Google will soon be under the looking glass of the FTC.

Whether some people realize it or not, Google has become an integral part of their lives. From its engine to web-based office software to advertising, Google has evolved from a small search site to a multi-faceted Internet juggernaut. Now, an Internet privacy group is challenging that juggernaut.

This past Tuesday, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, or EPIC (fantastic acronym) filed a complaint with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission in relation to Google. According to EPIC, Google's cloud computing applications lack proper security measures, and the organization has asked the FTC to bar Google from offering any cloud applications or services until proper safeguards are put in place. Cloud computing services like Google Docs store documents and spreadsheets on a server controlled by Google instead of on a users computer. While tools like Google Gears can take that data and store in on a local machine, the entire premise of cloud computing is to offer services with little to no data storage costs to the consumer.

"We are highly aware of how important our users' data is to them and take our responsibility very seriously," said a Google spokesperson about the complaint to Reuters.

The specific incident which sparked the complaint from EPIC happened earlier this month. On March 7, Google revealed that a small glitch in its Docs cloud software caused some of its users to share their private documents with other users without warning. The bug affected less than one tenth of a percent of all documents and only affected those who had previously shared online documents with other users. "The Google Docs data breach highlights the hazards of Google's inadequate security practices, as well as the risks of cloud computing services generally," said Marc Rotenberg, Executive Director of EPIC.

EPIC is also faulting Google for not encrypting any documents that are sent and received. Instead, the service sends documents in plain text. Other Google programs included in the complaint are Picasa and Gmail. Previously, EPIC has filed complaints with the FTC against companies like Microsoft and Searchpoint in relation to their security standards and/or business practices.

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  • 1 Hide
    Pei-chen , March 20, 2009 7:51 PM
    Maybe Google should behave like credit bureaus; don't tell you a thing so you have nothing to complaint about. The bureaus won’t even give you the full name of the scores let along any information.

    Some how, is this world; the nicer you are the more you got picked on.
  • 0 Hide
    skittle , March 20, 2009 10:24 PM
    FCC != FCC
  • 0 Hide
    skittle , March 20, 2009 10:25 PM edit button?
    FCC != FTC
  • Display all 7 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    Mr_Man , March 20, 2009 11:27 PM
    Some how, is this world; the nicer you are the more you got picked on.

    Perhaps, but with great power comes great responsibility. In this case, that's a responsibility to keep the millions of documents on Google Docs private.
  • 0 Hide
    my_name_is_earl , March 21, 2009 2:59 AM
    Every application can be hacked and rip apart by anyone yet alone Google is such a big company. It's not a surprise that something somewhere is being hack this now a day. But not all hacker are from outside of company. They should have security check their employees. Not every employees is a good egg.
  • 0 Hide
    Darkk , March 22, 2009 6:04 PM
    Well, google is also under fire for revealing a defunct credit card processing website where it stored all the customers credit card numbers along with CCV pin numbers and address info!! It's not entirely google's fault but fact of the matter is it shouldn't have happened. That website should have encrypted all the information but didn't. So far it affected over 19,000 credit card holders. Pardon me but to find out more about the story.. google it.

  • 0 Hide
    Blessedman , March 22, 2009 8:10 PM
    I am curious how a company can be held responsible for not having enough safety protocols in place, can we not hold Microsoft responsible for viruses and loss data?
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