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FTC Asked to Look Into Google Buzz




Poor Google. Just when you think they are out of the woods with all the Google Buzz privacy stuff they get thrown right back into the lion’s den. So who is the most recent fly in Google’s ointment? The US House of Representatives. They have asked the FTC to take a “look-see” at Google Buzz and privacy.

Mashable reports

An assortment of cross-party lawmakers from the U.S. House of Representatives has officially asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the launch of Google Buzz for potentially breaching consumer privacy.

Trouble was brewing early on for Google over its launch of Buzz, with privacy advocates quick to file a class action complaint in San Jose federal court last month.

Now PC World reports that six Democrats have joined five Republicans from the House of Energy and Commerce Committee in petitioning the FTC to look into Google’s handling of the launch, which they say exposed Gmail users’ private information to outsiders.

Google must be getting used to this by now. There is barely anything that Google is going to do that won’t rile some politicians looking to keep their names in the press. Of course, the FTC is already more than a little curious about Google’s approach to privacy as evidenced by the exiting commissioner Pamela Jones Harbour’s remarks earlier in the month.

PCWorld continues with

The lawmakers asked the FTC to get answers to four questions from Google, including whether the company will revise its Gmail privacy policy to obtain consent from consumers for sharing their information. The lawmakers also want to know if Google was using the personal information collected through Buzz to deliver targeted advertising.

The representatives also questioned how Google’s planned acquisition of mobile advertising vendor AdMob will affect consumer privacy.

What are your thoughts on Google Buzz and privacy after the initial concerns were put to rest? Is there need for the government to be asking Google about its business practices? Maybe the government should be thanking Google since they seem to be one of the few companies hiring people rather than laying them off these days. Wasn’t Washington supposed to be concentrating on that pesky economy thing anyway?

Here’s something that might be fun. Let’s try to predict what the next Google activity will be that will be ‘probed’ by the folks in Washington. What do you think Washington should do to Google next? This is fun isn’t it?

  • Jason

    The thing with Google Buzz to me was never the privacy (I can see how it could be a concern for some people, of course), it’s just that it, well, sucks. There was really never anything terribly useful from it for me, other than seeing the Google Reader stories a few of my friends shared without actually having to go to Google Reader (I check GMail far more often).

    I would absolutely LOVE a service that usefully gathered all of my social media stuff in one place and could filter based on user and service, and be smart enough to figure out which users I care more about (i.e. which ones do I have in multiple places would be a good start). I get way too much information on way too many networks and have no reasonable way to filter it to what I care most about, so I miss a ton of stuff I would probably appreciate.

    That’s what I thought Buzz was going to be, and also what LifeStream from AOL is supposed to be (although the UI on the website, at least, is less than stellar… I haven’t tried the desktop app yet). I imagine that if someone could really do it right, there would be a ton of users almost overnight.