WASHINGTON D.C. – The Federal Trade Commission today announced it has reached a settlement with Google concerning privacy complaints about how the company launched its Buzz social networking service last year.  The consent decree runs for a standard twenty-year term and provides that Google shall (i) follow certain privacy procedures in developing products involving user information, subject to regular auditing by an independent third party, and (ii) obtain opt-in consent before sharing certain personal information.

The following statement can be attributed to Berin Szoka, President of TechFreedom, regarding this agreement and its implications for the broader debate about online privacy:

For years, many privacy advocates have insisted that only stringent new regulations can protect consumer privacy online.  But today’s settlement should remind us that the FTC already has sweeping powers to punish unfair or deceptive trade practices.  The FTC can, and should, use its existing enforcement powers to build a common law of privacy focused on real problems, rather than phantom concerns.  Such an evolving body of law is much more likely to keep up with technological change than legislation or prophylactic regulation would be, and is less likely to fall prey to regulatory capture by incumbents.