Yesterday, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ruled that Google should face 20 years of monitoring. They were charged with deceptive privacy practices since the launch of their ‘twitter-esque’ social networking site, Buzz in early 2010.
Thousands of people that had subscribed to Buzz complained that their privacy had been abused.
Instead of being an opt-out service, Google Buzz would opt-in users, automatically followed people for you, and disclose emails on a very public scale.
This resulted in the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and eleven members of the US House of Representatives sending a complaint letter to the chairman of the FTC, Jon Leibowitz, criticising Google’s rule as a potential curator of private data.
The FTC has declared the company used “deceptive tactics and violated its own privacy promises to consumers.”
While the ‘buzz’ surrounding the launch of Buzz was mostly negative, some Googlers did find a good use for it.
However, early stage problems included a user’s inability to prohibit or block followers, many of whom were automatically chosen based on your most-contacted people within Google‘s emailing service, Gmail.
Google has been barred from any future privacy misrepresentations and will be consistently audited over the next 20 years – a forceful slap on the proverbial wrist.
They have already issued a formal apology and hope that they will be in users’ good graces once again before they are rumoured to launch their second social networking site, ‘Google Circles‘… Hmmn…
Hopefully this ruling will mean better protection of personal data and information as well as a higher privacy bar for users now concerned with how much they’re actually giving away when joining a social networking site.
By Alex Lawton (@AlexandraLawton).