* Group fueling Google FTC probe left out of lawsuit deal
* Privacy group objects to Buzz class action settlement
* Group had asked for $1.75 million
(Adds procedural details about legal process)
By Dan Levine
SAN FRANCISCO, March 31 An internet privacy
group that prodded U.S. regulators to scrutinize Google Inc
is miffed about getting cut out of a class action
settlement over the search behemoth's Buzz social network.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) objected to
the settlement in a court filing this week, claiming Google and
others decided to fund groups already benefiting from the
EPIC, led by prominent privacy advocate Marc Rotenberg,
filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission last year,
saying Buzz threatened the privacy of Gmail users. Google
settled with the FTC on Wednesday and agreed to independent
privacy audits. [ID:nN30140907]
Google also agreed last year to resolve a separate class
action lawsuit brought by a Gmail user. Part of that deal
provided for more than $6 million to be distributed to groups
advocating for internet privacy issues.
EPIC requested $1.75 million and while Google and plaintiff
lawyers doled out money to groups like the American Civil
Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the
Brookings Institution, EPIC did not get a cent. A federal judge
will have to sign off on the disbursement plan.
EPIC and a handful of other groups objected in a court
filing Wednesday, saying the majority of funds would be
allocated to groups that "receive support from Google for
lobbying, consulting, or similar services."
However, EPIC did not specify which of the groups provided
lobbying services. Rotenberg declined to comment.
A Google representative also declined to comment, while
plaintiff lawyers could not be reached.
The court should reject a deal "that encourages
organizations to stand by quietly while others do the actual
work of safeguarding internet privacy," EPIC said in its filing.
The case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of
California is In Re Google Buzz User Privacy Litigation, 10-672.
(Reporting by Dan Levine; Editing by Richard Chang and Matt