Google settles Buzz privacy suit, tells users by e-mail
In the settlement, Google agreed to pay $8.5 million into a fund for privacy education. The company made clear that the agreement did not include cash payments to users.
Buzz, launched last February as an application within Gmail, in some cases exposed the contact lists and other data of users to other Gmail users.
How did the company alert users that they were included in the settlement? By Gmail of course.
"Google rarely contacts Gmail users via email, but we are making an exception to let you know that we've reached a settlement in a lawsuit regarding Google Buzz," the firm said in messages sent to its U.S. users. Some analysts estimate the company has 170 million Gmail users worldwide.
"The settlement acknowledges that we quickly changed the service to address users' concerns," Google wrote.
Google said that everyone in the United States who uses Gmail was included in the settlement unless they decide to opt out before December 6, 2010. On January 31, 2011 the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose will hold a fairness hearing on the settlement.
Google is under increasing pressure from federal regulators for privacy flaps involving Buzz and its Street View mapping service. Last week, the FTC closed its investigation into Google's collection of Wi-Fi data with Street View mapping cars, saying the company had made sufficient promises to discard data it collected and beef up its privacy training among employees.
| November 2, 2010; 8:15 PM ET
Categories: Google, Privacy
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