Google launched its version of a social networking site last week with Buzz. Many people were
royally pissed dismayed by the privacy flaws in the initial launch. Google took the list of people that users emailed most frequently and created a public “friend list.”
As TechCrunch pointed out, “merging something designed for public broadcasting (Buzz) with something inherently private (Gmail) was just looking for trouble.”
The trouble has arrived. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has filed a privacy complaint with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. And today, Harvard Law 2L Eva Hibnick filed a class action lawsuit in California, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
From the Chronicle:
Among other things, critics raised concerns this could — or possibly did — aid stalkers, jeopardize journalist sources, or hint at affairs.
Here at Above the Law, we immediately privatized our Buzz lists to keep stalkers at bay, hide our affairs, and, most importantly, to keep any of our tipster email correspondents anonymous.
The legal complaint accuses Google of breaking various electronic communications laws, including the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The plaintiff is seeking injunctions to prevent the company from taking similar actions in the future, and unspecified monetary relief.
Hibnick is seeking to bring the complaint on behalf of all Gmail users whose accounts were automatically linked to Buzz. The filing noted there were 31.2 million Gmail users in January and that Google “added the Buzz program to most or all of these accounts.”
That’s a big class action. And a speedy one. Buzz was just launched last Tuesday.
As pointed out by Nicholas Carlson at Business Insider, the company’s VP, product manager, and engineers immediately “went into code red” to fix the privacy problems and “save Google Buzz.”
Presumably their lawyers are now heading into code red too.
ogle Buzz Draws Class-Action Suit From Harvard Student [ABC News]
Local class action complaint filed over Google Buzz [Tech Chronicles/San Francisco Chronicle]
Google Buzz Privacy Issues Have Real Life Implications [TechCrunch]
Google facing lawsuit over Buzz privacy in federal court [Ars Technica]
The huge privacy flaw in Google Buzz (and how to fix it) [True/Slant]
How Google Went Into “Code Red” And Saved Google Buzz [Business Insider]