SAN JOSE, Calif. – The Federal Trade Commission is ordering Google to implement a comprehensive consumer privacy program that will force the Mountain View Internet giant to submit to regular privacy audits for the next 20 years, a strong punitive action that is a first in the federal agency’s history.

The action announced Wednesday comes as a result of a settlement of the FTC’s allegations that Google used deceptive tactics and violated its own privacy promises to consumers when it launched its social network, Google Buzz, in early 2010.

Said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, in a statement on the agency’s website: “This is a tough settlement that ensures that Google will honor its commitments to consumers and build strong privacy protections into all of its operations.”

Buzz was based on Google’s popular Gmail service. Although Google led Gmail users to believe that they could choose whether or not they wanted to join the network, the FTC said, the options for declining or leaving the social network were ineffective. For users who joined the Buzz network, the controls for limiting the sharing of their personal information were confusing and difficult to find, the agency contended.

Among other charges, the FTC said Google failed to disclose adequately that consumers’ frequent email contacts would become public by default.

The FTC also charged that Google misrepresented that it was treating personal information from the European Union in accordance with the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor privacy framework.