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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

FTC Makes Google Change it’s ‘Buzz’ Privacy Policy



The FTC released a press release today saying that Google is going to have to change it’s privacy policy and make people opt-into services their services, in particular Google Buzz rather than being automatically enrolled.

Google Buzz was a pretty big fail for the company, when it was released last year Gmail users were given two choices, either “Sweet!, Check out Buzz” or “Nah, go to my inbox”. The problem was that users who clicked “Nah” were still opted into certain features of the social network without really knowing it. The users who clicked on “Sweet!” according to the press release, were not properly informed that the people they emailed most frequently would appear publicly by default. Also, even when Google allowed users to turn-off the feature, they were not fully removed from the social network.

Google had received thousands of complaint emails after launching buzz. Users were upset that the fact they contact ex-spouses, patients,employers and competitors was made public, causing them lots of unnecessary problems.

The order marks the first legal action the Federal Trade Commission has taken against a company to make significant changes to it privacy policy. Which I guess is a good thing seeing as how they’re making Google fess up and fix a problem that can be a lot more than an annoyance for the millions of people who use Gmail.

The FTC is also saying that Google misrepresented it’s compliance with the U.S-E.U Safe Harbor and other privacy, security and compliance programs by not letting people explicitly know that their information was collected for a purpose which is not outlined in their privacy policy (their privacy policy does not say that your information will be collected and shared in a social network) and preventing people to completely opt-out of the Buzz service.

So now Google has to change their policies and show people exactly what information will be shared and where it will be seen. There will be a 30 day period of comments in which anyone interested can submit written or via-the-internet comments. The link for that and the source below.

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