Google must submit to independent audits for 20 years to make sure it’s safeguarding consumers’ privacy.
The Federal Trade Commission has announced a settlement that also forces Google to overhaul privacy protections on its Buzz network. The FTC slammed the Internet giant for misleading Gmail customers during its 2010 launch of Google Buzz, a social network that was meant to rival Twitter and Facebook. The FTC says Gmail customers who thought they’d declined to join Google Buzz were enrolled in part of it anyway. Others who thought they’d dropped out of Buzz were reportedly kept in.
The FTC said even those who opted in weren’t adequately warned the social network would raid their email address book for other names. Complaints poured into federal regulators and privacy watchdog groups that people were being linked to abusive ex-spouses and business rivals. The independent audits will occur every other year but the findings won’t be made public.