Google Buzz Settles Privacy Case With FTC As Plus1 Launches

Google settled its case with the FTC over the forced joining to Buzz for a brief period after its launch last year, they now have to have users sign up for the product.

Google "will have to "obtain express affirmative consent" from users before sharing with any third parties. That means sticking information in front of user's face telling him or her what information will be shared, who it will go to, and what the purpose of the sharing is. The order says this disclosure has to be done in addition to any written privacy policy, end user license agreement, or "terms of use" page. That's a significant departure from the industry norm," PaidContent noted.

Google will also face bi annual privacy audits by the FTC. That should prove overwhelming should Plus! become as popular as the Facebook Like button.

The settlement can be found at the government's site.

"When companies make privacy pledges, they need to honor them," said Jon Leibowitz, Chairman of the FTC. "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."

Google responded on their blog "we don't always get everything right. The launch of Google Buzz fell short of our usual standards for transparency and user control--letting our users and Google down. While we worked quickly to make improvements, regulators--including the U.S. Federal Trade Commission--unsurprisingly wanted more detail about what went wrong and how we could prevent it from happening again. Today, we've reached an agreement with the FTC to address their concerns. We'll receive an independent review of our privacy procedures once every two years, and we'll ask users to give us affirmative consent before we change how we share their personal information.".

They do realize their new Plus1 ties in to Buzz and thus will be under audit for 20 years.

About the author

Frank Watson has been involved with the Web since it started. For the past five years, he headed SEM for FXCM -- at one time one of the top 25 spenders with AdWords. He has worked with most of the major analytics companies and pioneered the ability to tie online marketing with offline conversion.

He has now started his own marketing agency, Kangamurra Media. This new venture will keep him busy when he is not editing the Search Engine Watch forums, blogging at a number of authoritative sites, and developing some interesting online community sites.

He was one of the first 100 AdWords Professionals, a Yahoo and Overture Ambassador, and a member or mod of many of the industry forums. He is also on the Click Quality Council and has worked hard to diminish click fraud.