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SANTA MONICA, CA -- Consumer Watchdog today demanded that Google give straight answers about how it handles apps buyers’ personal information when they buy apps from Google Play, a practice that is the target of a formal complaint from the public interest group to the Federal Trade Commission.
 
Tuesday, WebProNews and DroidLife, reported that Google was addressing the privacy concerns on a new Google Wallet Merchant Center it is rolling out and will no longer send the personal information about apps buyers to apps devlopers.  Today, Politico quoted a Google spokeswoman as denying there had been a policy change:  “As part of the rollout of the new Merchant Center, we are experimenting with the display of customer information, which is more of a user interface change.”
 
“This is typical Google behavior and PR bafflegab; it means consumers don’t know how Google respects their privacy,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project director. “They are making the change, but don’t want to admit they were doing anything wrong.  Google must answer this simple question: ‘Will it stop sharing apps buyers’ personal information with apps developers?’”
 
“Google never levels with consumers about its privacy practices. It’s time regulators demand straight answers and hold Google to the commitments it makes,” Simpson said.
 
Google’s practice of sharing with apps developers personal information about the buyers who use Google Wallet to pay for their app violates Google’s privacy policy and its “Buzz” consent agreement with the Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Watchdog charged in a formal complaint to the FTC in February. The group estimated the fines should run in the billions of dollars. After Rep. Hank Johnson asked Google about its practices of sharing personal information including name, email address and address, Consumer Watchdog filed a second complaint.  The complaint has been turned over to the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection Enforcement Division.
 
In addition to filing a formal complaint with the FTC, Consumer Watchdog shared its complaint with Attorney General Kamala Harris, who is actively working to protect consumers’ privacy rights.
 
Read Consumer Watchdog’s first letter to the FTC here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/ltrftc022513.pdf
 
Read Consumer Watchdog’s second letter to the FTC here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/ltrftc032213.pdf
 
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Visit our website at www.ConsumerWatchdog.org