Lawmakers press FTC to investigate Google social networking

Ten House lawmakers are now pushing the Federal Trade Commission to probe users' growing privacy complaints with Google Buzz, the search company's new social network.

In a letter to FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz on Thursday, the smattering of House Democrats and Republicans said an investigation was essential, given "Google's practice of automatically using consumers' e-mail address books to create contact lists for Buzz and then publicly disclosing the names of those private contacts" online.

The lawmakers also took aim at Google's recent overture to purchase AdMob, a mobile phone advertising company. That deal, which requires the FTC's approval, could "affect competition," the 10 members of Congress noted in their letter, later asking the FTC to pay special attention to any privacy concerns the buyout might eventually create.

"We are optimistic that a fair investigation... will be of benefit to both consumers and Internet search technology companies," the lawmakers said.

But after learning of the letter, Google on Friday stressed its "door is always open to discuss additional ways to improve our products and services moving forward.

"User transparency and control are very important to us, and we review all products carefully before we roll them out," a company spokesman told The Hill. "When we realized that we'd unintentionally made many of our users unhappy, we moved quickly to make significant product improvements to address their concerns."

However, Google's assurances seem not to have satisfied lawmakers, who said the company has yet to address the fact "personal information was publicly disclosed without notice our choice and has yet to be appropriately secured."

Still, the 10 lawmakers now petitioning the FTC for action are hardly alone in their quest: A number of groups, including the Electronic Privacy Information Center, have filed complaints or threatened to seek action against Google's neophyte social network.