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


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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