Google knew it had blown its own privacy rules with Google Buzz. That’s why Google and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) quickly agreed that Google would submit to third-party privacy audits for the next 20 years to settle allegations it misused users’ personal information. Google wanted to take its punishment and move on.
The FTC had alleged that Google misrepresented its privacy claims because it led Gmail users to believe they could choose to join Buzz. Instead, Google Buzz, Google’s first attempt at a social network, was integrated into Gmail. This resulted in Buzz users’ e-mail contacts being made public. That didn’t go over well.
By the end of March, Google has apologized for its blunder. Alma Whitten, Google’s Director of Privacy, wrote, “User trust really matters to Google. That’s why we try to be clear about what data we collect and how we use it-and to give people real control over the information they share with us.”