Sen. Blumenthal: FTC Needs to Investigate Google+

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) has called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Google+ after the company pulled the plug on the consumer version of the social network.

Google VP of engineering Ben Smith blogged Monday (Oct. 8) that the company was shutting down Google+, its effort to take on Facebook in the social media sphere, but somewhat buried the lead that 500,000 accounts were affected by a glitch that allowed outside app developers access to profile data including e-mail addresses, occupation, gender and age.

Smith said the bug had been patched as of March of this year and found no evidence that any developer was aware of the bug or abused it. But because google+ has relatively few users--it did not become the next Facebook--Smith said they were pulling the plug on the consumer version--but not the enterprise version--over a 10-month wind-down period ending next August.

Related: FTC Focuses on Potential Anticompetitive Conduct By Edge

Google has been the subject of hefty fines abroad and increased scrutiny at home a scrutiny only likely to increase given the latest issue with Google+, as Blumenthal signaled Monday after reports of the Google+ shutdown.

“Today’s report confirms that Google’s claims to value consumers’ privacy seem like nothing more than empty talk," said Senator Blumenthal. "Google must explain its unwillingness to disclose this breach and the FTC must conduct a fulsome investigation. But to truly end this cycle of broken promises, we need a national privacy framework that protects consumers and empowers the FTC to hold companies accountable.”

The FTC has principal authority over broadband privacy, but edge and ISP.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.