Google contacts Buzz users over $8.5 million lawsuit

Google announced Tuesday that it will settle in a class-action lawsuit brought against it regarding Google Buzz.

Millions of Google Buzz users were contacted Tuesday by Google regarding a class-action lawsuit settlement stemming from an online privacy debate sparked by the search giant.

The lawsuit, brought against Google by a group of Gmail users, claimed that Google's social networking tool Google Buzz, which was introduced in February 2010, violated users' privacy by automatically enrolling users in Google Buzz and publicly exposing private user data.

The settlement, the details of which are archived at BuzzClassAction.com, states that Google will establish an $8.5 million "Common Fund" to "fund organizations focused on Internet privacy policy or privacy education," as well as to cover the plaintiff's lawyers' fees and other expenses. Google also promises to "do more to educate users about the privacy aspects of Google Buzz" (the email sent today is supposedly the first step in this education).

The Buzz Over the Lawsuit

Google Buzz is a social networking platform tied into Google's popular webmail client, Gmail. It was introduced in February, appearing as an extra tab in users' Gmail inboxes. Privacy concerns immediately arose because Google generated a list (based on Gmail contacts and who they used the service Google Talk with the most) of users to follow. This quickly sparked outrage with many users concerned Google Buzz revealed personal connections (without allowing users to "opt-in"). People pointed out -- the people you e-mail and chat with the most often are sometimes not the people you want in your social networking Web.

Settlement's Impact on You

If you're wondering what this means for you, the violated Gmail and/or Google Buzz user, the answer is: basically nothing. Gmail users are unable to receive compensation, as the settlement acknowledges that Google has changed Google Buzz in such a way that privacy violation is no longer an issue.

Affected users (all Gmail users in the United States who had the opportunity to use Google Buzz before November 2) have four options: Opt out, object, comment, or do nothing. If you fail to opt-out before December 6, you agree to be part of the case and can no longer sue Google regarding Google Buzz privacy after the settlement has been finalised. Any objections to the settlement must be brought by January 10, 2011.

The settlement was granted preliminary approval on October 7, and will be considered for final approval on January 31, 2011.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Internet-based applications and servicesGooglelegal issuessocial networkssocial mediainternet

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?