After being investigated for various privacy concerns related directly to the now defunct Google Buzz, today, Google has finally reached a agreement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. The settlement calls for Google to be audited for the next 20 years.
According to the FTC, Google was involved in sketchy practices back when they launched Google Buzz back in 2010 for not allowing Gmail users to easily opt-out of contact sharing. The FTC said in a statement,
“In response to the Buzz launch, Google received thousands of complaints from consumers who were concerned about public disclosure of their email contacts which included, in some cases, ex-spouses, patients, students, employers, or competitors.”
The FTC’s settlement with Google requires “G” to obtain user consent before it shares any information with third parties. It also leaves Google open to 20 years of privacy audits every 2 years by an independent 3rd party monitoring service. In an email Google’s Senior Manager of Global Communications Chris Gaither said,
“We’ve strengthened many of our internal privacy and security controls over the past year. For example, in October we appointed longtime Google engineer Alma Whitten to director of privacy across product management and engineering. We’ve increased privacy training for all our employees. We’ve tightened our compliance controls for those who deal with sensitive data. And last fall, we added a new process to our existing privacy review system requiring every engineering project leader to maintain a Privacy Design Document for each initiative they are working on. This document records how user data is handled and is subject to regular review.”
This should help Android users sleep well at night with all the information Google has on us at their disposal. Everything from where you live, what eat, to credit cards and personal information — it’s nice to know our information is safe. For now.