Google to face privacy audits for 20 years

Google will be subject to privacy audits for the next 20 years, following charges that it violated its own privacy promises.


Google Buzz, its social messaging platform, was the subject of complaints, including the public listing of users’ frequent Gmail contacts and the inability to be fully removed from the social network, filed with the Federal Trade Commission last year.

The complaints were upheld, leading to today’s agreement, which will see Google undergo a privacy review once every two years for the next 20 years.

Google responded through its blog, saying, “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.”

The company says it has reached an agreement with the FTC to address their concerns and in future will ask users to give consent before their personal informaion is shared.

This incident is the latest in a string of privacy complaints for Google. Last year Buzz members sued the internet giant for violation of privacy, with Google settling by pledging to support privacy organisations and education. It was also fined for gathering personal data using unsecured Wi-Fi networks for its Streetview service.

This latest incident is likely to fuel to an already raging debate over privacy concerns across the EU.

Last week, European Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding said global internet companies like Facebook and Google would be bound by European law, and that citizens had the right to proper data protection and the “right to be forgotten”.

The EU has taken a strict stance on users having full control over their data in terms of accessing, modifying and deleting.

Earlier this week UK Communications Minister Ed Vaizey questioned the practicality of implementing this. At a CBI employers’ group event in London, he said online privacy rules should reflect the international infrastructure of the internet.

This story first appeared on

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