FTC Commissioner Puts Verbal Smackdown On Facebook & Google Over Privacy

Aww, snap! Federal Trade Commissioner Julie Brill doesn’t care that her speech opening a forum on Data Privacy Day was being streamed on Facebook and likely Googled by many — she still put the verbal smackdown on those two companies for their problems protecting user privacy.

MSNBC quotes Brill’s speech, where she said “Reasonably safeguarding consumer information is critical to a trusted online marketplace,” and that companies can’t just have policies laying that out, they have to actually enforce them. Facebook and Google, you didn’t do it well enough, she says.

“Our enforcement actions in the privacy area are also a call to industry to put important privacy principles into practice. Facebook and Google learned this the hard way.”

Brill’s likely referring to the case where the FTC said Facebook “deceived consumers by telling them they could keep their information on Facebook private, and then repeatedly allowing it to be shared and made public” with their 2009 privacy rollback. The settlement in that case doesn’t allow Facebook to make any more deceptive claims about privacy, but also didn’t force a reversal of those privacy settings.

And while Google just debuted a new privacy policy in its revamped terms of service, Brill’s comments are aimed at the Google Buzz debacle of 2010, where weak default privacy settings resulted in another settlement with the FTC. The claim asserted by the FTC was that Google didn’t do enough to let users know the identity of people they frequently emailed would be made public.

FTC head calls out Facebook, Google on Data Privacy Day [MSNBC]