For the next 20 years Google will be audited independently because they have “violated its own privacy promises”. The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said that the search giant wrongly used information from Google Mail users last year to create its social network Buzz.
“When companies make privacy pledges, they need to honour them,” said Jon Leibowitz, chairman of the FTC.
“This is a tough settlement that ensures that Google will honour its commitments to consumers and build strong privacy protections into all of its operations.”
One its social applications, Buzz launched in February 2010 was critisized by users. One widespread complaint was over a feature that allowed it to publicly list other Gmail contacts a user was most frequently in touch with. While this feature could be turned off, the default setting was to leave it on – potentially revealing a user’s contact with an ex-spouse, employer or similar.