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Group wants Google Buzz settlement to apply more broadly

The privacy safeguards included in the Federal Trade Commission's settlement with Google over the botched rollout of the Buzz social network should apply to all of the search giant's ad holdings, according to the Center for Digital Democracy.

Monday is the final day for public comment on the settlement, which requires Google to implement a comprehensive privacy program and submit to outside privacy audits every two years. The FTC alleges Gmail users that declined to join Buzz were still enrolled in aspects of the service.

“Google must be required to protect the privacy of consumers who use all its products and services — including its far-reaching mobile, display advertising, and interactive marketing platforms,” said Jeff Chester, CDD executive director.

CDD is a non-profit consumer watchdog that has voiced concern about targeted mobile advertising. The group asked the FTC to block Google's $750 million purchase of AdMob in 2009.

“We call for the FTC to impose an affirmative opt-in requirement with real candor from Google on how its system actually operates. Anything short of this requirement will mean the FTC isn't yet ready to do what is required to protect the privacy of the American public,” Chester said.

Chester argued the terms of the settlement must apply to all of Google's mobile ad services including AdMob, the DoubleClick ad system, and Google Display Network. The 13-page filing also urges the FTC to guard against ad networks that specifically target teens or multicultural groups.

Update: Google spokesman Chris Gaither sent the following comment via email:

"A month ago we reached an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission to close its investigation into the February 2010 launch of Google Buzz. The public comment period is part of the FTC approval process, and the FTC responds to comments it receives. We look forward to the FTC finalizing the agreement."

Several lawmakers and federal officials including Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) have argued the terms of the Buzz settlement regarding consumer consent should apply to all firms that collect or share consumer data.

Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) introduced the Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights Act last month, which would clearly lay out how companies should use and safeguard consumers' personal data.

The bill has drawn bipartisan support and appears likely to serve as the starting point for the upcoming Senate debate on online privacy legislation.