FTC Commissioner Pamela Jones Harbour is set to leave her agency next month, but for Google, that’s not soon enough. Harbour decided to criticize Eric Schmidt and the Buzz rollout where she asked her colleagues to have a tougher stance on some of the privacy-related offenses.
Referencing Schmidt’s now famous “if you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place” remark, Harbour replied by saying, “Speaking for the last time as a regulator, let me be very clear: I could not disagree more with that assertion. Privacy is a fundamental right that people do care about.”
She added, “The recent launch of Google Buzz was, quite frankly, irresponsible conduct by a company like Google. . . . Google consistently tells the public to ‘just trust us,’ and has adopted as a company motto, ‘Do no evil.’ We have high expectations for Google as a corporate citizen. But for me, based on my observations, I do not believe that consumer privacy played any significant role in the release of Buzz.”
Harbour came back with, “I would like to see the Commission take the position of intolerance toward companies that push the privacy envelope, then backtrack and modify their offerings after facing consumer and regulator backlash.”
Google could potentially be in a bit of trouble if the FTC does decide to take these viewpoints as its own.