Kerry: Google Buzz settlement shows need for commercial privacy legislation

The settlement announced Wednesday between Google and the Federal Trade Commission underscores the need for legislation that outlines how businesses can use consumer information collected online, according to a statement from Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.).

“Baseline privacy protections in law remain common sense and this case proves it,” Kerry said. “Google has admitted error, but Google is far from alone in the collection, use, and distribution of immense amounts of our information.

Kerry, who heads the Senate Commerce Committee's Communications subcommittee, is currently working on a privacy bill that he has promised to deliver this year.

The White House has signaled its support for online privacy legislation as well, while the FTC has recommended firms take voluntary measures to protect consumers, such as adding Do Not Track tools to Web browsers.

During a conference call with reporters to discuss the settlement, FTC Consumer Protection Bureau deputy director Jessica Rich said the commission views the terms of the settlement as practice all firms should follow. Kerry echoed that sentiment.

"Every company should adhere to this kind of standard, not just Google, and it’s best for businesses and consumers alike to have certainty about the rules and standards going forward," Kerry said.

"Today’s settlement underscores that everyone will be better off with clear rules of the road rooted in a specific law."

He praised the FTC for its enforcement actions and said he fully expects Google will keep innovating and creating exciting services for users. The search giant apologized for the error again on Wednesday and agreed to implement a comprehensive privacy plan including outside audits every two years.