Consumer Watchdog Group Barks at Google's FTC Settlement, Files Motion in Court

Paul Lilly

Consumer Watchdog, a non-profit consumer education and advocacy organization operating out of California, has filed a motion in U.S. District Court opposing Google's $22.5 million settlement with with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) earlier this month. The organization isn't happy with the fine amount, but just as important, it doesn't believe Google should be able to deny any wrongdoing.

Google settled a suit with the FTC in early August following an investigation that it was planting advertising cookies on machines running Apple's Safari browser, and doing so by circumventing built-in cookie blocking measures. The $22.5 million fine was the largest ever handed out by the FTC and was intended to send a "clear message to all companies" that such behavior would not be tolerated. However, the fine hardly amounted to a kiss on the wrist for Google, which raked in $37.9 billion in revenue last year, almost all of which came from advertising.

"The Commission is proposing to let Google buy its way out of trouble for an amount that is less than the company spends on lunches for its employees and with no admission it did anything wrong," said John M. Simpson , Consumer Watchdog's Privacy Project director. "Corporations need to be held accountable when they willfully violate a consent agreement."

The motion (PDF) requests that Consumer Watchdog be granted friend-of-the-court status, thereby allowing it to submit briefs opposing the settlement. It also asks for a hearing on the proposed deal, with Consumer Watchdog being allowed to attend.

Image Credit: Flickr (MandeeSears)

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