The FTC announced today that Google has agreed to a settlement over privacy violations stemming from Google Buzz. The controversy stems from the fact that Google did not notify its “Gmail” users that Google Buzz would use and potentially expose their email account information. Many users complained when they were caught off guard. Jon Leibowitz, Chairman of the FTC had this to say:

“When companies make privacy pledges, they need to honor them. This is a tough settlement that ensures that Google will honor its commitments to consumers and build strong privacy protections into all of its operations.”

Steve Pociask, president of the American Consumer Institute issued the following statement:

“The FTC should be commended for reaching this strong settlement with Google in regard to its ‘deceptive privacy practices’ in launching their Google Buzz product. FTC Chairman Leibowitz is exactly right that companies who make privacy pledges ‘need to honor them.’ Companies – particularly dominant ones like Google – have a responsibility to respect the privacy of consumers who use and trust their products. Unfortunately, Google has shown a disturbing pattern of not respecting privacy rights – from Google Buzz to the Spy-fi controversy to collecting social security information from children in Doodle for Google, to name just a few. In every case, Google apologizes and claims that it was a one time mistake, but then continues the behavior. Under this settlement, the FTC will now conduct a biennial review of Google’s practices to ensure they can no longer say one thing and do another. Hopefully, this move by the FTC means that Google will finally get he message that these violations will not be taken lightly and we hope it will be followed by increased scrutiny of Google’s privacy practices.”