Google certainly created a Buzz – but one that it did not seem to have full control over. The Buzz social networking service allegedly violated Gmail users privacy by publicly exposing data and most-frequent contacts without consent, and enrolling customers automatically.
Google was then hit by a class-action lawsuit, which it has just won preliminary court approval on to settle. Presumably wanting to keep Gmail users in the loop, Google sent an email informing all customers about the approval.
The Buzz has now been reined-in to prevent the severe lack of customer control from happening again. Google is to pay $8.5m into a fund, but it is not for Gmail users, as Google emphasised, “just to be clear, this is not a settlement in which people who use Gmail can file to receive compensation.”
Instead, the money is to go into web education – or more accurately, web privacy education. Google will be educating its own Buzz users on privacy too. With everyone in the know such a violation, theoretically, should not happen again.
Google were keen to point out that it reacted quickly when the problems were highlighted – a good stance with a lawsuit in the works and such disapproval from around the world.
If anyone does want to object to the settlement you have until January 10th 2011 – with the United States District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose. Final court approval of the settlement is set for the end of January – Google probably want the buzz surrounding this calamity to die pretty quickly.