Following a violation of “its own privacy promises”, Google will be subjected to independent privacy audits for the next 20 years.
The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said that the search engine giant used information wrongly from their Google Mail users last year to create its social network, Buzz.
The FTC stated that “the options for declining or leaving the social network were ineffective”.
Google’s response in a blog post declared “Google Buzz fell short of our usual standards for transparency and user control”.
Google also offered a “Turn off Buzz” option that did not fully remove the user from the social network.
Launched in February 2010, according to Google, Buzz was designed to bring members’ personal and private lives together. One widespread complaint was over the feature that publicly listed other Gmail contacts the user was most frequently in touch with.
Although this feature could be switched off, the default setting was to leave it on.