Google Faces Lawsuit From Federal Court Due To Privacy Issues with Google Buzz

So what’s keeping the Google Buzz team busy these days? Security issues, criticism and fall of expectations? Wait, they have recently faced a lawsuit from a federal court in USA.


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Acording to a report by SFgate, a class action complaint has been filed in SanJose federal court against Google Inc, for violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). The complaint is filed because Google Buzz shared personal data of users without their consent. The case was filed on behalf of Eva Hibnick, a law firm employee from San Francisco.

Now, what’s this “personal data” shared in Google Buzz which resulted in violating the CFAA act?

Google Buzz, as you may know lets users post updates, links, photos ,videos from Gmail. Integrating the social circle with Gmail sounds like a good idea but the followers are pre selected based on whom you interact with most often. This is determined by your chat buddies and the people whom you email frequently.

So far so good, but those people could automatically see all the other followers and information shared in other Google services such as Google Reader and Picasa.

Here is a case study:

One woman complained that this configuration allowed her abusive ex-husband and his friends to begin following private comments she had been sharing with her boyfriend   on Google Reader,   a free Web content aggregation service also hooked into Buzz.

Eva Hibnick, is trying to bring the complaint on behalf of all Gmail users whose accounts were automatically linked to their Buzz profiles. On this issue, a Google spokesperson said

We haven’t yet been served, so we can’t comment on the suit until we’ve had a chance to review it.

The Google public policy blog has a couple of posts, in the past few weeks how to control privacy with Google Buzz by removing Buzz from profiles and the like. Meanwhile, check out the ultimate list of Google Buzz tips and tricks.

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Amit Banerjee

Amit has been writing for Techie Buzz since early 2009 and keeps a close eye on web apps, Google and all things Tech. He also writes at his own tech blog, Ampercent. Follow him on Twitter @ amit_banerjee