Google hit with class action lawsuit for Buzz

Ronny Kerr · February 18, 2010 · Short URL:

Privacy concerns over Google Buzz lead to suit, alleging Google broke various electronic comm. laws

Google Buzz lawsuitIn the first week of its launch, Google Buzz got a lot of bad press for tons of privacy flaws. For example, before Google went on a patch rampage to fix most of the glaring issues, a simple reply to another user revealed the other user's email address to the global online community.

As we pointed out earlier this week, Google made a far less concentrated effort than usual to guarantee that its new product was ready for the public. On behalf of the company, Buzz Product Manager Todd Jackson apologized to Google users for the mistake.

That mistake may end up costing Google a little more than an apology, though.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. law firms have filed a class action complaint in a San Jose federal court on behalf of Eva Hibnick, alleging that Google broke a law by sharing users' personal data on the Buzz network without the users' consent.

Supposedly, Google ignored mandates outlined in various electronic communications laws, like the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Google turned Gmail "into a social networking service and that's not what they signed up for, Google imposed that on them without getting their consent," said Kimberly Nguyen, consumer privacy counsel with EPIC of Washington, D.C. "The bottom line is, users should have meaningful control over their information."

The filing is asking for some unspecified amount of cash, which should be hefty considering that the class action lawsuit covers about 31.2 million people, the number of Gmail users in January.

Google has not yet responded to the suit.

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

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