Privacy Watchdog: FTC Needs To Look At Google’s “Search, Plus Your World”

epic.org-google-squareThe Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) may file a request asking the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate antitrust and privacy concerns surrounding Google’s latest update to its search results.

As the LA Times reports, EPIC Executive Director Marc Rotenberg says his group will probably file a complaint with the FTC. “We believe this is something that the FTC needs to look at,” Rotenberg tells the Times. “Google is an entrenched player trying to fight off its challenger Facebook by using its market dominance in a separate sector. I think that should trouble people.”

Google announced “Search Plus Your World” yesterday, a new feature that, among other things, displays content from its own Google+ social network in Google’s search results and shows logged-in users private information that’s been shared by his/her social contacts.

In a statement on its website, EPIC references both as concerns:

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. Also, Google’s changes come at a time when the company is facing increased scrutiny over whether it distorts search results by giving preference to its own content.

Although many Google users still don’t have access to it, Search Plus Your World has come under fire from a number of quarters in the 24 hours since Google’s announcement. Twitter was one of the first to complain about the way Google+ content is being presented in the new search results — something that, as Danny Sullivan pointed out this morning on Search Engine Land, is being done at the expense of relevancy in some cases. In any interview last night with Search Engine Land, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt disagreed that Google+ content is favored in the new search results.

There’s more coverage of the EPIC statement on Techmeme, and here are links to our coverage on both Marketing Land and Search Engine Land:

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | Google: Google+ | Google: Legal | Legal: Antitrust | Legal: Privacy | Social Media Marketing | Top News

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About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Marketing Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • Chris B

    “Google is an entrenched player trying to fight off its challenger Facebook”

    I don’t live inside the DC echochamber so excuse me if I’m confused here, but isn’t Facebook the entrenched monopolist in social?

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