EPIC had argued that the privacy changes — set to go into effect March 1 — will run afoul of Google’s privacy settlement with the FTC. But United States District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said that the FTC’s decision to enforce its consent order in this case isn’t subject to judicial review — essentially saying EPIC doesn’t have the right to compel the agency to do anything through this channel.
The decision neither evaluated the merits of EPIC’s arguments nor did it shed any light on whether the FTC is already investigating if Google’s changes violate the settlement.
Google’s “win” on privacy: After a year of negotiations, the White House on Thursday unveiled privacy guidelines for these firms that urged them to install “do not track” technology on browsers but fell short of requiring it. Tech giants, in particular Google, breathed a sigh of relief, but the decision was no accident — it was the result of a lot of lobbying work, The Washington Post reported.
Once disdainful of the lobbying tactics of other companies, Google’s Beltway operations have become nearly indistinguishable from those of other powerful corporations. Last year, it doubled the amount it spent on lobbying to $10 million and doubled the size of its employee political donation fund to $836,000. And Google capped the reinvention of its Washington operations Thursday by announcing that former congresswoman Susan Molinari (R-N.Y.) will head its D.C. staff.
Bono Mack’s office said that Google will be briefing its staff Monday on the “do not track” button announced this week.
Facebook users getting hip to privacy: A study from the Pew Center’s Internet and American Life Project has found that Facebook and other social media users are pruning their friends list at greater rates than ever. According to the study, 63 percent of Internet users have deleted people from their friends lists on social media sites, up from 56 percent in 2009, and 44 percent have deleted comments made by others on their profiles. A surprising tidbit, given the furor over face-recognition technology: Only 37 percent of users have removed their name from tagged photos.
Women and younger users were more likely to “unfriend” people on their social networking sites than others, the study found.
AT&T’s plan to deal with network strain: On Friday, AT&T announced that it has developed a new system for dealing with overloaded cell towers that see a spike in traffic when, for example, there is a natural disaster or other network shock. In a company blog post, AT&T executive John Donovan said that the “self-optimizing” network should reduce network overloading by 15 percent, and that the carrier is planning on deploying the technology throughout its network this year.
Pfc. Manning opts not to enter plea: Army Pfc. Bradley Manning opted not to enter a plea Thursday to charges that he leaked sensitive information to the Web site Wikileaks. The Associated Press reported that Manning also deferred the choice of being tried by a judge or a military jury.
According to the report, Manning’s lawyer proposed a trial date be set sometime in April. Col. Denise Lind, the military judge, did not set a trial date, but did schedule another court session for mid-March.