Google's Social Search Initiative Receives EPIC Complaint, Possible FTC Investigation

Paul Lilly

Google a week ago began rolling out a social search update called "Search, "Plus Your World," which meshes photos, comments, and posts on your Google+ account with your search results. This has drawn the ire of a privacy advocate called  EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center) concerned over privacy and antitrust issues that could arise from the new search feature.

EPIC plans to complain to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission in hopes of sparking an investigation, the Los Angeles Times reports .

"We believe this is something that the FTC needs to look at," Mark Rotenberg, executive director of EPIC, told the L.A. Times . "Google is an entrenched player trying to fight off its challenger in Facebook by using its market dominance in a separate sector."

You could draw a parallel of sorts to Microsoft's bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows, a two-for-one that got Microsoft in trouble in the European Union and prompted a so-called browser ballot. It's not an apples-to-apples comparison, but it is somewhat similar in that EPIC is charging Google with giving itself an unfair advantage by integrating Google+ content into Google Search. But that's not EPIC's only concern.

"Although data from a user's Google+ contacts is not displayed publicly, Google's changes make the personal data of users more accessible," EPIC states on its website .

Twitter is also opposed to Google's search modifications, while Facebook has yet to make its feelings known.

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