Google Grows More Transparent via FTC

Google still isn't doing any evil with user data, but with one product it slipped into murky privacy waters and the Federal Trade Commission noticed.

On their official blog, Google explains both its transparent intentions and how it gives users control of their information. The glitch came with Google Buzz.

At launch of Buzz they "let our users and Google down." The company did make some improvements to protect user data, but the FTC wanted more answers.

So the feds will do a review every two years of Google's privacy procedures. The company will also ask for "affirmative consent" before personal information is touched.

The problem may have been contained to Buzz, but the solution will be applied to all Google efforts. Google, under pressure from the FTC has also agreed to privacy audits for the next 20 years.  Says the FTC: "This is the first time an FTC settlement order has required a company to implement a comprehensive privacy program to protect the privacy of consumers’ information."

We’d like to apologize again for the mistakes we made with Buzz. While today’s announcement thankfully put this incident behind us, we are 100 percent focused on ensuring that our new privacy procedures effectively protect the interests of all our users going forward.

Google really stepped in it with its Buzz project, and probably wishes the FTC could forget the whole thing like users already have. With Buzz, Google used your G-Mail contacts to deterimine your "social circles" and then publicized those connections.

So, for instance, if you often emailed both your priest and your mistress at the same time each day, Google presumed they were somehow connected, and publically displayed them in your "circle".

Google's Dashboard does provide a simple way to control -- and understand -- how users' information is managed across their different products.

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