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Google reaches privacy settlement with FTC

WASHINGTON — Google has agreed to adopt a comprehensive privacy program to settle federal charges that it deceived users and violated its own privacy policy when it launched a social networking service called Buzz last year.

Google triggered a fierce user backlash when it integrated Buzz into its Gmail email service in February of 2010. The service automatically created public circles of friends for users based on their most frequent Gmail contacts.

But many users complained that they didn’t want their all their email contacts to become part of a social network for anyone to see.

The settlement announced Wednesday with the Federal Trade Commission requires Google to obtain user consent before sharing their information with third parties if it alters a service in a way that violates its existing privacy policy.