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FOIA Request Indicates FTC Initiated Google Probe

ONLINE PRIVACY—U. S.

August 21, 2012

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports on the origins of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) investigation into Google’s practice of bypassing Apple users’ privacy settings. Though some have argued it was Stanford researcher Jonathan Mayer who spurred the investigation, documents and interviews obtained by the WSJ’s Freedom of Information Act request indicate the FTC had undertaken the investigation before Mayer’s tip. FTC Chief Technologist Ed Felten was the first to bring the issue to light in an e-mail to a staff attorney. Felten contacted Mayer, who had been Felten’s student at Princeton University, for data on Google’s practices. Google later agreed to a $22.5 million settlement with the FTC. (Registration may be required to access this story.)
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