“The U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s proposed settlement with Google over its bungled launch of the Buzz social-networking service could have disastrous effects on the rest of the e-commerce industry, the head of a trade group said. Privacy groups and some FTC officials are pressing to set the Buzz settlement as an online privacy standard. And one provision of the proposed settlement would be a “real killer” for the rest of the e-commerce industry, said Steve DelBianco, executive director of trade group NetChoice. The proposed settlement, with public comments due next Monday, requires Google to get “express affirmative consent” from its users for “any new or additional sharing” of personal information with third parties if the new sharing is a change in Google’s practices. This provision, if it becomes an industry standard enforced by the FTC, would require all online businesses to get opt-in permission from customers for minor changes in the way they share information with partners or other businesses, DelBianco said. Opt-in requirements would make it difficult for social-networking and online content sites to roll out new innovations and pay for their free services, he said. The calls for the settlement to become a privacy standard “can’t be allowed to produce side effects for the rest of the industry for something Google did inappropriately,” DelBianco said. “If the FTC gets its way and imposes the Google settlement on the entire industry, Google’s competitors have to obtain express, affirmative consent before releasing any new features that would just share non-sensitive user data with third-party apps and advertisers.”
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