CDD: FTC Should Extend Google Buzz Conditions To Ad Initiatives

Calls for FTC to impose affirmative opt-in requirement

The Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) has told the Federal Trade Commission that it needs to extend its settlement with Google over its Google Buzz social network to its advertising-related online initiatives including Google Content Network, DoubleClick, Admob, and mobile ad services Invite Media and Teracent.

"Google must be required to protect the privacy of consumers who use all its products and services-including its far-reaching mobile, display advertising, and interactive marketing platforms," said CDD Executive Director Jeff Chester in comments to the FTC.

As part of the FTC settlement, Google is barred from "misrepresenting the privacy or confidentiality of individuals' information or misrepresenting compliance with the U.S.-E.U Safe Harbor or other privacy, security, or compliance programs." It also requires Google to affirmatively obtain consent [opt in] "before sharing their information with third  parties if Google changes its products or services in a way that results in information sharing that is contrary to any  privacy promises made when the user's information was collected."

Chester says the FTC must make it clear that "meaningful privacy protections" extend to all of those ad services as well.

"We call for the FTC to impose an affirmative opt-in requirement with real candor from Google on how its system actually operates. Anything short of this requirement will mean the FTC isn't yet ready to do what is required to protect the privacy of the American public."

The deadline for comments on the tentative settlement with Google was the beginning of May. The FTC will now vote to finalize the agreement, which is virtually a lock since the initial settlement vote was 5-0, though with one commissioner concurring rather than voting yes.

"A month ago we reached an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission to close its investigation into the February 2010 launch of Google Buzz," said Google in a statement. "The public comment period is part of the FTC approval process, and the FTC responds to comments it receives. We look forward to the FTC finalizing the agreement."