Google will pay $8.5 million to settle a class-action lawsuit that argued its Google Buzz social Web service violated users' privacy when it launched in February.
Google will shell out $8.5 million to
settle a class-action lawsuit with seven people who argued the Google Buzz social service
violated users' privacy.
Google appeared to launch
Buzz Feb. 9 with good intentions,
allowing users to opt in to a service that lets users share and discuss links,
photos and videos with their Gmail contacts.
However, the company quickly ran afoul of users who
realized their e-mail contacts were being exposed to users of Buzz with whom they
did not want to share their contacts.
The lack of explicit permissions irked people
who felt Google was taking too
much license with their data.
to close these privacy holes
and add more user controls, but the damage had been done.
Seven individuals filed a class-action suit in San
Francisco court, arguing that Google violated privacy law in with Buzz.
The AFP said
the plaintiffs will
receive $2,500 apiece, with most of the settlement money funding organizations
go to the plaintiffs' attorneys.
Google Buzz was the first of two major privacy snafus on
Google's part this year. The search engine in May
its Street View cars has accidentally collected 600 gigabytes of user
data from WiFi networks in countries all over the world.
Google is working with those companies to give back the
data or destroy it. Privacy regulators in Germany and attorneys general in the
the company hard over this. Consumer Watchdog made this video
mocking the company over this.
The company Sept. 3 also took steps to
its privacy policies, which tend to be long winded for most Internet
companies where users' digital data is at stake.
For example, Google has removed policies for 12 specific
products, instead lumping Web services such as Gmail, Talk, Calendar and Docs
Google isn't the only company whose privacy protocols have proven long-winded. As this piece in The New York Times noted