March 30th, 2011

Google Settles F.T.C. Charge of Deceptive Privacy Practices

The New York Times

The Federal Trade Commission charged Google Wednesday with deceptive privacy practices in its introduction last year of Buzz, a social networking tool in Gmail.

The F.T.C. said Google, which agreed to settle the charges, must start a privacy program and undergo privacy audits for 20 years.

This is the first time the F.T.C. has charged a company with such violations, and the first time it has ordered that a company introduce a privacy program.

The settlement shines a spotlight on Google’s continuing battles over privacy. It has faced legal action and complaints from users over everything from storing personal information to obtaining private data about Internet users with its Street View cars.

Buzz lets Gmail users share status updates, photos and videos. Its introduction in February 2010 unleashed a barrage of criticism from privacy advocates and everyday users because it automatically included users’ e-mail contacts in their social network. The F.T.C. said Buzz made privacy protections on Google confusing and difficult to find.

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