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The Terrifying Ways Google Is Destroying Your Privacy

Google appears to have morphed from a corporation that proclaims, “Don’t be evil” to one insisting that users “Join the Borg.”

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The FTC’s current inquiry into Google is not the first showdown between the two entities. In 2011, the FTC brought a suit against Google Buzz, the company’s first social networking effort, for violating its stated privacy policies and for using deceptive tactics. The FTC charged Google with using information collected from Gmail users to grow its then recently established Buzz service. Google’s settlement involved not only paying an $8.5 million fine, but agreeing to undergo regular audits of its privacy practices for the next 20 years. (Under the terms of the agreement, the FTC can fine Google up to $16,000 per violation per day.) 

As the pressure mounts on Google in the U.S., a growing chorus of challenges is being raised in Europe and in other countries, including over alleged anti-trust violations, and Google’s new integrated data harvesting practice. EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding called it an "Orwellian surveillance apparatus," adding, "My impression is that Google has trampled European data-protection legislation.” 

France's privacy watchdog CNIL determined, “Preliminary findings show that Google’s new policy fails to meet the requirements of the European Data Protection Directive (95/46/CE) regarding the information that must be provided to data subjects.” It urged a "pause" in the rollout of Google’s new data harvesting program. 

Other investigations of Google’s new data-gathering practice are underway in Argentina and South Korea. 


David Rosen writes the blog, Media Current, for Filmmaker and regularly contributes to CounterPunch and the Brooklyn Rail; he can be reached at

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