FTC-Google Pact: First Major Safe Harbor Action, First ‘Privacy by Design’ Requirement

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The Federal Trade Commission’s proposed administrative consent agreement with Google Inc. over the internet giant’s alleged misuse of user data during the launch of its now-abandoned Buzz social network yielded a number of firsts—including the FTC’s first action against a firm for failing to live up to privacy promises under the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Program, which launched in 2000 (In re Google Inc., FTC, File No. 102 3136, proposed consent agreement 3/30/11).

Privacy and e-commerce attorneys told BNA that the enforcement action also serves notice that the FTC considers privacy by design to be more of a compliance requirement than a guiding principle. Privacy by design is aimed at building privacy into the front end of the design and implementation of new information systems and technology.

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