US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in a ruling yesterday in Washington said Congress didn’t give federal courts jurisdiction to monitor FTC enforcement of consent decrees.
“EPIC - along with many other individuals and organizations - has advanced serious concerns that may well be legitimate,’’ Jackson wrote in her ruling. “The FTC, which has advised the court that the matter is under review, may ultimately decide to institute an enforcement action.’’
Google, based in Mountain View, Calif., announced plans on Jan. 24 to unify privacy policies for 60 services and products including YouTube videos and Android software for mobile phones. The move, set to take effect March 1, would simplify conditions for user agreements, the company said.
EPIC said the plan would allow Google to combine more information about users, reduce users’ control of their own data, and give more personal information to advertisers. Google has denied that the new policy will divulge any more information about users to third parties.
“The judge did not reach the merits of the EPIC complaint,’’ Marc Rotenberg, EPIC’s executive director, said in an e-mail. The group filed a notice of appeal with the court.
“We take our settlement orders very seriously, but only the FTC and not outside parties should be able to enforce them,’’ Claudia Bourne Farrell, a commission spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. “We are pleased that the court has rejected EPIC’s unwarranted attempt to interrupt the FTC’s careful consideration of the announced changes in Google’s privacy policies.’’