New Google's service raises privacy concerns

By EDRi · February 24, 2010

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Deutsch: [Neuer Google-Dienst erweckt Datenschutzbedenken |]

The new networking service issued by Google company called Google Buzz has
met criticism and confusion from its users who complained that a list of
people they frequently email or chat with has appeared on their profile.

The problem occurred due to the default options when creating one’s profile
which automatically post the respective list from Gmail and Google chat. In
order to avoid posting the respective list on the profile, the user has to
use the opt-out variant or edit the list himself.

“Google attempted to jump start Buzz with lists drawn from its successful
Gmail and Gchat services. While this may help Buzz grow and save users the
time to type in all their contacts, it also has an inherent danger of
inadvertent disclosure of private information,” has commented EFF lawyer
Kurt Opsah.

Google chief executive Eric Schmidt reacted to the users’ criticism by
stating that the issue had been caused by confusion and miscommunication.
“I would say that we did not understand how to communicate Google Buzz and
its privacy. There was a lot of confusion when it came out on Tuesday, and
people thought that somehow we were publishing their email addresses and
private information, which was not true (…) I think it was our fault that
we did not communicate that fact very well, but the important thing is that
no really bad stuff happens in the sense that nobody’s personal information
was disclosed.”

This statement is contradicted not only by users but even by Buzz product
manager Todd Jackson’s statement on 16 February who told BBC that the
company was “very, very sorry” and that users were “rightfully upset”.

Schmidt admitted however that the company made some changes in order to cope
with the situation. “Since Tuesday we have made a series of changes to the
product which make some very fundamental changes in the way that you
initially experience it, in particular instead of automatically following
everybody it now gives you a list of who you want to follow and it makes it
incredibly explicit that it has not been giving them information without you
giving it to them.”

Protect Your Privacy on Google Buzz (12.02.2010)

What’s the Buzz about? Studying user reactions (12.02.2010)

What's the Buzz about? Studying user reactions

Google boss says ‘nobody was harmed’ by Buzz debacle (17.02.2010)