A Google employee walks across the campus at Google headquarters on February 2, 2011 in Mountain View, California.
The issue relates to Google's rather disastrous launch of Google Buzz last year. In that case, information about Gmail users was shared publicly. Google responded within a couple of days and locked down privacy settings considerably but the case dragged on, culminating in this settlement.
The most significant provision of the settlement, according to Cecelia Kang of The Washington Post, who we talk to on today's show, is that Google will submit to an independent audit every two years for the next 20 years. It's one thing for a company to police itself, it means something a little different when it's someone else doing it.
Eric Goldman, a professor at Santa Clara University School of Law and director of the High Tech Law Institute there, says that other companies will be reading the tea leaves of the Google settlement in order to guide their own policies. More than anything, it sends a message that the FTC will take a hands-on approach to privacy and that all companies will need to have a good answer when asked about their policies.
Also in this program, we talk to listener Bob Bouch of Boerne, Texas. He heard our report yesterday about the move from vinyl records to CDs to digital files and now on to cloud drives. He says we forgot his favorite platform: the cassette.