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FTC member: Google's 'irresponsible conduct' with Buzz

FTC Commissioner Pamela Jones Harbour says she doesn't believe consumer privacy played any significant role in Google's thoughts when releasing Buzz.

Were you one of those strangely backward people who thought that the way Google launched Buzz was reminiscent of that famous painting, the Laughing Cavalier Engineer?

I only ask because, according to PC World, Federal Trade Commissioner Pamela Jones Harbour seems to have had that thought so, too.

During an FTC privacy workshop, Harbour reportedly said: "Even the most respected and popular online companies, the ones who claim to respect privacy, continue to launch products where the guiding privacy policy seems to be, 'Throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks.'"

But she can't really have meant Google, can she? Google really does care about your privacy. It's always said so. (And in any case, privacy is dead. Or perhaps it isn't.)

Well, it seems that Harbour is harboring a little suspicion about Google. Actually, it's stronger than that. She reportedly described the company's "irresponsible conduct," referring specifically to Buzz's initial laissez-faire attitude to those whom you most frequently e-mailed magically becoming your followees in the public domain.

While Google's Todd Jackson subsequently apologizedfor the company's alleged inability to foretell the consequences of its engineering enthusiasm, Harbour seemed quite clear that Google was more than a little careless: "Google consistently tells the public to 'just trust us'. But based on my observations, I do not believe consumer privacy played any significant role in the release of Buzz."

Strangely, Google CEO Eric Schmidt doesn't seem quite au fait with the outcry that accompanied Buzz. At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, he referred to "confusion" and suggested that there weren't any occurrences of "really bad stuff."

It's hard attempting to place your finger in so many pies that you're not always aware what those fingers are doing inside those pies, nor, indeed, what fruit might already be occupying those soft and juicy insides. But it will be interesting to see what Google might have to say with respect to a class action suit that has been filedagainst it over Buzz.

Oh, and there's those pesky people at the Electronic Privacy Information Center who have filed a complaint with, well, the FTC.

Still, it is onward, upward, outward and skyward for Google. And just to remind you of how large and well-rounded the Google offering is, I have embedded a film from The Hungry Beast in Australia, which has a lot of information and a very appropriately passionate tone.