Online privacy group calls for Google investigation

19 Mar 2009

US online privacy group EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Centre) has formally requested that the Federal Trade Commission in Washington investigate Google’s cloud-computing services, including Gmail, Google Docs and Picasa, to determine how safe the company’s privacy and security safeguards are.

EPIC claimed that recent reports have found that Google does not “adequately safeguard the information that it obtains”, and asks that the Federal Trade Commission ascertains whether Google has “engaged in unfair and/or deceptive trade practices”.

This request for an investigation into how securely Google stores its users’ information came after a recent incident where a small percentage of Google Docs users’ private files were inadvertently exposed.

EPIC said that taking these measures were necessary in light of the “growing dependence of US consumers, businesses, and federal agencies on cloud-computing services”.

How much clout does EPIC actually have though? Well, according to its website, previous complaints about Microsoft’s Passport service led to the company “revising the security standards”.

This may be so, but will EPIC succeed in its bid to label Google’s cloud-computing services unfair or deceptive? One thing this action may do is encourage us, the users, to read the small print.

By Marie Boran