Dear Congress: It’s Not OK Not To Know How Search Engines Work, Either

Privacy Watchdog EPIC Asks Federal Trade Commission To Investigate Google

by Chris Sherman,
January 12th 2012 4:35 PM

The Electronic Privacy Information Center has urged the FTC to investigate Google’s recent integration of search results with personal data, such as photos, posts, and contact details, gathered from Google+ in Google Search results. These changes, Google Plus Your World, “raise concerns related to both competition and the implementation of the Commission’s consent order,” EPIC said in a press release.

Google faces both criticism and governmental inquires regarding “competition” issues (aka anti-trust concerns). At Search Engine Land, we’ve covered many of them, including Bing’s Travel Search & Kayak Favoritism Angers No One, While Google’s Gets Headline Attention From WSJ, Dear Congress: It’s Not OK Not To Know How Search Engines Work, Either, Koreans Accuse Google Of “Obstructing” Antitrust Investigation and many others.

The FTC “commission’s consent order” was something Google agreed to last year over concerns about Google’s ill-fated Buzz service. With that order, Google agreed to make more prominent privacy disclosures to users (and obtain their consent for any data sharing).

“Although data from a user’s Google+ contacts is not displayed publicly, Google’s changes make the personal data of users more accessible. Users can opt out of seeing personalized search results, but cannot opt out of having their information found through Google search,” said a note on EPIC’s website.

Last September, EPIC asked the FTC to investigate Google’s acquisition of YouTube, arguing that Google was favoring YouTube videos in search results. Over on Search Engine Land, Danny Sullivan examines the allegations of favoritism in his post, To Understand Google Favoritism, Think “If Google+ Were YouTube”.

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