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Patricia O'Connell
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Privacy Practice Chair Kirk Nahra Comments on the Google-FTC Settlement

BNA's Electronic Commerce & Law Report
April 6, 2011

Wiley Rein’s Kirk Nahra was quoted commenting on the recent Google-Federal Trade Commission (FTC) settlement in a BNA article. A consent order between Google and the FTC was proposed on March 30 and is the first time that the FTC has taken privacy enforcement action involving the U.S.-E.U. Safe Harbor Framework. Google came under fire for its social networking feature, Buzz, which disclosed subscribers’ email contacts and postings on third-party websites. The FTC contended that Google changed the manner in which handled customers’ personal information and did not clearly state that in its privacy policies. The settlement will require that Google implement a comprehensive privacy program and that it be audited for the next 20 years. 

The case also highlighted the Commission’s idea of “privacy by design,” which involves building privacy protection into a system from the ground up. “This action shows the importance of knowing what you’re going to do in advance, and that privacy by design has to be built in from the start,” Mr. Nahra said.