Google Feels the Aftershocks of Buzz
January 24, 2013
Google is, once again, facing fresh litigation over Buzz. The short-lived service, which shut down in October of 2011, is another persistent thorn in fast moving, almost regulation-free Google’s side. Online Media Daily reveals, “Google Faces New Lawsuit About Buzz.”
Networking tool Google Buzz was supposed to bring us closer to Google’s utopian vision of total connectivity, and it began its mission by tapping, unasked, into Gmail users’ contact information. Unfortunately, the move meant that personal details, like names of a user’s doctor, lawyer, coworkers, and other contacts, could suddenly become public. As it turns out, not everyone was willing to sacrifice privacy for the interconnection dream. Go figure.
Google rectified the situation almost immediately, but that has not shielded them from legal action. The article recalls:
“The company resolved the private class-action litigation, agreeing to pay $6 million to various privacy organizations and $2.5 million to attorneys who brought the case. Individual users whose privacy was breached didn’t receive anything.
“The settlement agreement, approved by U.S. District Court Judge James Ware in San Jose, Calif., provided that users who didn’t agree with the resolution could opt out.”
As it turns out, three users recently objected to the settlement enough to file their own suits. In fact, a couple of them seek to represent classes of users, totaling about 20,000 users between them. This could represent a hefty outlay for Google—all because someone didn’t run what seemed like a simple idea by the legal department. I hope that is now a mandatory step inside the beleaguered company.
Cynthia Murrell, January 24, 2013