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Google Gets Hit With Big Fine For Serving Up Cookies

Google Inc. has been ordered to crack open the wallet and pay a $22.5 million civil penalty for misrepresentaion of privacy policies.

The FTC says Google told users that the Safari browser was set to block cookies by default. Taking their word for it, users continued to surf the web, believing they were free of prying eyes. Not so. The FTC says that for a few months between 2011 and 2012, Google created a work around that placed tracking cookies for their DoubleClick network on millions of Macs, iPhones and iPads.

As if lying to the public wasn’t bad enough, the FTC says Google violated an agreement they had with the government agency that specifically forbid them from misrepresenting privacy options.

Gearing Up for Its Public Offering, Facebook Opens Terms and Policies Hub

Facebook is about to go public with what will be one of the most discussed, examined and hyped IPO’s in history. We are all pretty fed up familiar with that story.

If you have been watching Facebook as of late, they are acting like a person who is entertaining a large group of people at their house and realized that it needed some serious clean-up work to be truly presentable. The latest effort to tidy up for money lenders is the introduction of the new ‘Terms and Policies Hub‘. In a nutshell, it’s the place where the myriad terms and conditions, privacy policies and the like reside. Mashable reports

Facebook, infamous for its changing policies and confusion among users about what they’re getting themselves into when they use the world’s largest social network, has finally aggregated all its terms and policies under the same roof.

Google Gets Hit With Fine for Obstructing FCC Investigation

Google’s Street View is a very helpful tool when you’re driving to a place you’ve never visited before. But what are we willing to give up in return for the convenience? No one wants to pay in cash for the service, so how about you turn over your web history and email instead?

More than a year ago, the FCC began an investigation about the data collected by Google’s Street View teams. It was learned that in addition to photographing an area, the happy little cars also scooped up data from unprotected wireless networks.

Google has never denied the data collection, but they have had a variety of explanations. According to a report in the LA Times, Google first went with the theory that an “unauthorized engineer” put the plan in motion without permission from the company. The data was collected but no one did anything with it.

Expedia and TripAdvisor Bring Claims Against Google to EU

Add TripAdvisor and Expedia to the growing list of companies raising a collective voice against Google to the the European Union.

Reuters reports

Online travel agency Expedia on Friday accused Google of breaching EU rules with a formal complaint to EU antitrust regulators as it joined a dozen other firms that have taken their case to the European Commission in the last two years.

As for TripAdvisor? Bloomberg reports

TripAdvisor Inc. filed an antitrust complaint against Google Inc. with European Union regulators, adding a second set of allegations from an online travel company against the world’s largest search-engine operator.

TripAdvisor’s complaint addresses “anti-competitive and unfair practices by Google that harm the marketplace and consumer welfare,” the Newton, Massachusetts-based company said today in a statement, which didn’t give details of the claims. Streetmap, a British mapping service, also filed a complaint with regulators, the European Commission said.

FTC Releases Final Consumer Privacy Recommendations

If you have some free time today, the FTC just released a new 112 page report on marketing and consumer privacy that you might find interesting.

The report title is almost as long as the report. It’s called “Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: A Proposed Framework for Businesses and Policymakers.” Note the word “proposed.” This report doesn’t establish any new laws, but they are rather firm in their “suggestions.”

Think of it as a parent who “suggests” that a teen be home at a reasonable hour. They might look the other way if the teen come in after midnight once or twice, but if it becomes a habit . . .

Here’s FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz in the parent role;

Facebook None Too Thrilled With Recent Employer Actions

As you have probably seen recently, there are reports coming out of Facebook accounts being an integral part of job interviews. Of course, we know that if something is public on Facebook it can be found by anyone. That’s fine. It’s the direct requests by employers to prospective employees to give them their login and password for their Facebook account that has many up in arms. Included in that many is Facebook itself.

Facebook released a statement called “Protecting Your Passwords and Your Privacy” that leads with

In recent months, we’ve seen a distressing increase in reports of employers or others seeking to gain inappropriate access to people’s Facebook profiles or private information. This practice undermines the privacy expectations and the security of both the user and the user’s friends. It also potentially exposes the employer who seeks this access to unanticipated legal liability.

Facebook’s New Privacy Policy Isn’t All That Private

Facebook has just released their proposed changes to their privacy policy and it’s got the masses upset. (Surprise!).

First and foremost, they’ve changed the name of the document from Privacy Policy to Data Use Policy and that should tell you all you need to know.

Let me pause a moment to reiterate my feelings on internet privacy. I see it as an oxymoron. If you put content in a public space, I don’t care if you mark it private and lock it up six ways to Sunday, you have to understand that it’s not secure. If someone wants that information badly enough, they’ll get it and spread it around as they please. So don’t put information online you don’t want your mother or girlfriend to see.