THE ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTRE (EPIC) has filed a complaint with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over Google's data collection.
Yes. Here we go again. This time, it's about Google's tracking of in-store purchases, something it does gazillions of times a day under the guise of a service called "Google Marketing Next" announced back in May.
Google claims that it always ‘deidentifies' the transactions, but won't release details of how it does so, leaving many eyebrows raised.
Worth noting at this point - this is in-store purchases, using Android Pay, and other ‘selected partners' nothing to do with online payments.
The complaint explains: "Google collects credit card transaction information from direct import of customer data by advertising clients, through third-party partnerships, which capture approximately 70 per cent of credit and debit card transactions in the United States," and through "data licensing agreements with major credit card companies."
EPIC has already had Google's dangly-bits in a noose over the launch of Google Buzz (pause for the sound of a million synapses jumping back to life as they remember the long-forgotten) which was foisted on everyone at launch without what EPIC deemed as sufficient privacy measures.
It has also kicked ass over Snapchat photos not being deleted as they should.
The complaint includes the explanation that: "Google's reliance on a secret, proprietary algorithm for assurances of consumer privacy, Google's collection of massive numbers of credit card records through unidentified third-party partnerships, and Google's use of an opaque and misleading opt-out mechanism are unfair and deceptive trade practices subject to investigation and injunction by the FTC."
So what does EPIC want? Well, in section V, headed "Prayer for Investigation and Relief" it explains: "EPIC asks the Commission to investigate Google, enjoin its unfair and deceptive business practices, and require Google to protect the privacy of its users."
It then breaks it down into blah blah specifics which you can read here.
Google's blog explained it all to us at the time: "If you collect email information at the point of sale for your loyalty program, you can import store transactions directly into AdWords yourself or through a third-party data partner.
"And even if your business doesn't have a large loyalty program, you can still measure store sales by taking advantage of Google's third-party partnerships, which capture approximately 70 per cent of credit and debit card transactions in the United States."
But one of the big hairy issues here is that you're opted-in by default, and as EPIC points out, escape is not transparent. µ
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