Lawmakers ask FTC to investigate Google Buzz


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Lawmakers are urging the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to investigate complaints that Google’s Buzz social networking service breached consumer privacy.

In a letter to FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, 11 lawmakers from the House Energy and Commerce Committee asked the agency to look into allegations that Google Inc. disclosed personal information without the consent of its users in February when it launched Buzz.


‘Due to the high number of individuals whose online privacy is affected by tools like this -- either directly or indirectly --- we feel that these claims warrant the commission’s review of Google’s public disclosure of personal information of consumers through Google Buzz,’ read the letter.

The lawmakers want to know whether Google plans to revise its Gmail privacy policy to get consent from consumers before sharing their information. They are also concerned that Google Buzz may put children at risk.

Buzz sparked a firestorm of controversy, prompting Google to make a number of changes to address consumer complaints. The Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a complaint with the FTC in February. In March, outgoing FTC Commissioner Pamela Jones Harbour criticized Google for how it launched Buzz.

Google commented: ‘User transparency and control are very important to us, and we review all products carefully before we roll them out. When we realized that we’d unintentionally made many of our users unhappy, we moved quickly to make significant product improvements to address their concerns.’

-- Jessica Guynn