CDD Calls on Federal Trade Commission to Extend Google Buzz Settlement Terms to All Google Properties

For Immediate Release

Contact: Jeff Chester

May 2, 2011

Center for Digital Democracy

CDD Calls on Federal Trade Commission to Extend Google Buzz Settlement Terms to All Google Properties, and also Protect Multicultural & Teen Users


Urges FTC to Ensure Privacy Safeguards Across the Google Digital Data Empire



Washington, DC: In comments filed today with the Federal Trade Commission, the Center for Digital Democracy called for the conditions imposed on Google as a result of its proposed Google Buzz settlement to extend as well to the company’s vast online advertising holdings. Under that settlement, Google agreed to refrain from future privacy misrepresentations, to implement a “comprehensive privacy program,” and to submit to regular, independent privacy audits for the next 20 years. These conditions, the CDD’s comment made clear, must apply with equal force to such Google holdings as the Google Content Network, DoubleClick, DoubleClick Ad Exchange, Admob and its related mobile ad services, Invite Media, and Teracent.


The FTC, according to the CDD, should examine each “certified” partner that Google permits to operate on its Content Network, for example, and then order those companies to provide consumers with both accurate information and control over what and how their data are collected and used. So, too, should the dozens of data-mining companies that Google has certified, and that engage in real-time ad exchange sales of users, social media surveillance, and behavioral targeting and retargeting, be held to the new FTC-sanctioned privacy safeguards.


“Google must be required to protect the privacy of consumers who use all its products and services—including its far-reaching mobile, display advertising, and interactive marketing platforms,” declared CDD Executive Director Jeff Chester. “Under pressure from the FTC, Google admitted to the FTC what consumer groups have been telling policymakers for years—that the privacy of Internet and mobile phone users has been disregarded by the largest online marketing companies. The commission must ensure that Google's mobile and location marketing services, including Admob; its powerful Doubleclick display ad system; its Ad exchange that tracks and sells online users to the highest bidder—all without transparency and consumer control; and its Content Network that is partnering with numerous third-party data profiling and targeting companies, are all required under the consent decree to provide meaningful privacy protections. We call for the FTC to impose an affirmative opt-in requirement with real candor from Google on how its system actually operates. Anything short of this requirement will mean the FTC isn't yet ready to do what is required to protect the privacy of the American public.”

CDD’s 13-page filing offered numerous examples of privacy-related data collection practices undertaken by Google and its subsidiaries and affiliates in both the online and mobile arenas. The Google/DoubleClick Ad Exchange, for example, “must be required to adopt a range of additional privacy and consumer protection safeguards.”  CDD urged the FTC to also ensure that Google, under the decree, develop safeguards addressing neuromarketing, the targeting of Hispanics and other multicultural groups, and adolescents.

The Center for Digital Democracy is a nonprofit group working to educate the public about the impact of digital marketing on public health, consumer protection, and privacy. It has played a leading role at the FTC and in Congress to help promote the development of legal safeguards for behavioral targeting and other online data collection practices.