Google_ FTC reach Google Buzz privacy settlement by bestt571


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									Google, FTC reach Google Buzz privacy
                                                      The US Federal Trade Commission announced it has reached a settlement with
                                                      Google over privacy concerns with Google Buzz, the social network the Internet
                                                      giant launched last year.

The Federal Trade Commission reached a settlement with Google on Wednesday over Google Buzz,
the social networking tool rolled out last year which spawned a slew of privacy complaints.

Under the settlement announced by the US regulator, Google is required to implement a comprehensive
privacy program and will be subject to independent privacy audits every two years for the next 20 years.

"When companies make privacy pledges, they need to honor them," FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz said in a
statement. "This is a tough settlement that ensures that Google will honor its commitments to consumers
and build strong privacy protections into all of its operations."

Alma Whitten, Google's director of privacy, product and engineering, apologized in a blog post for privacy
shortfalls with Buzz, which Google launched in February 2010 as an answer to Facebook and Twitter.

"The launch of Google Buzz fell short of our usual standards for transparency and user control -- letting our
users and Google down," Whitten said. "We'd like to apologize again for the mistakes we made with Buzz.

"We are 100 percent focused on ensuring that our new privacy procedures effectively protect the interests
of all our users going forward," she said.

Digital rights groups and members of Congress welcomed the FTC settlement, saying it sent a message to
Google and other Internet companies that they need to incorporate greater privacy protections into their

Google has been facing increased scrutiny from US regulators and European authorities as it has grown
from a scrappy startup into the titan of Internet search.

In October, the FTC ended a separate inquiry into the collection of private wireless data by Google's "Street
View" mapping service after Google pledged to strengthen its privacy and security practices.

France's data privacy regulator last week imposed a fine of $142,000 on Google for collecting private
information while compiling Street View.

In another ruling last week, a US judge dealt a setback to Google's plans for a vast digital library and online
bookstore, rejecting a copyright settlement hammered out by the Internet giant with authors and publishers.

A coalition of online travel sites is seeking, meanwhile, to block Google's proposed $700 million
acquisition of flight information company ITA Software claiming it would give Google too much control

"Google, FTC reach Google Buzz privacy settlement." 30 Mar 2011.
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over the lucrative sector.

In a move separate from the FTC action, Google agreed in September to pay $8.5 million to settle a class
action privacy lawsuit over Google Buzz.

The FTC alleged that the Mountain View, California-based Google used deceptive tactics and violated its
privacy promises to consumers when it launched Buzz through its popular email service Gmail.

The FTC said Google led Gmail users to believe they could choose whether or not to leave Google Buzz
but the options for doing so were "ineffective."

Controls for limiting the sharing of personal information on the network were also "confusing and difficult
to find," according to the US regulator.

Google received thousands of complaints about Buzz over the public disclosure of email contacts which,
the FTC said, "included, in some cases, ex-spouses, patients, students, employers, or competitors."

The settlement bars Google from making "future privacy misrepresentations, requires it to implement a
comprehensive privacy program, and calls for regular, independent privacy audits for the next 20 years,"
the FTC said.

Jeff Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy said the FTC action had "sent a powerful message to
Google and the online data collection giants" that they need to behave more responsibly.

Senator Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat from West Virginia who heads the Senate Commerce Committee, said
Google "was just plain wrong when it opted people into Buzz without their consent.

"This should be a wake-up call for online businesses -- both large and small -- of the need to be clear and
honest about how the personal information of consumers is collected and used," Rockefeller said.

John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog welcomed the FTC settlement but said Google "needs to be
punished and feel pain on its bottom line."

"Nothing will completely stop Google from invading users' privacy until it gets hit where it hurts, its bank
accounts," Simpson said.

(c) 2011 AFP

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