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Google settles Buzz privacy suit, tells users by e-mail

By Cecilia Kang


Google on Tuesday said it reached a settlement in a class-action suit filed against the search giant over privacy breaches related to its Buzz social networking program.

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.

By Cecilia Kang  | November 2, 2010; 8:15 PM ET
Categories:  Google, Privacy  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: White House Internet privacy committee puts out charter
Next: Rep. Boucher loses, opens uncertainty for tech, telecom legislation

Comments

People: Take the time to OPT OUT from this settlement. You will have to write a letter, and spend the 44cents for a postage stamp and actually MAIL it.

What they don't tell you in the email: ATTORNEYS will get 30% of the funds they imply will go to support privacy as FEES FOR FILING THE LAWSUIT, and the named individuals in the multiple lawsuits that were filed against Buzz will each get $2500 from the $8.5 million fund - THIS IS MILLIONS GOING TO PAYOFF ATTORNEYS and EARLY FILERS and NOTHING TO YOU!!!

Opt out to nix this horrible settlement!

Posted by: wpost16 | November 2, 2010 8:46 PM | Report abuse

A new low for class actions: Nothing for the harmed parties, attorney's fees for the lawyers

How about a rule whereby plaintiffs' attorneys fees are not paid in class actions unless there is a minimum award of $1,000 per class member, and 70 percent of such class members are actually identified and receive the money? Until this happens, the money stays in escrow, and if it doesn't happen, it all goes back to the defendent. Money for plaintiffs who cannot be identified is converted into bills and shredded.

Posted by: mark16 | November 2, 2010 9:32 PM | Report abuse

I just read the notice from google regarding googlebuzz and it seems like a bunch of bull crap. Attorneys are getting a lot of the money (i should of studied law instead of pharmacy). But more importantly is I use my gmail account often and I have always enjoyed their services. However, my contacts and I don't want my information/contacts to be available for the public to view freely. If anyone understands why google contacted me (after reading the email it seems under control) or if theres any more information on this that I should be aware of so that it doesn't happen again.
thax

Posted by: bgebreegziabher | November 2, 2010 10:53 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: pengyan1988 | November 3, 2010 3:24 AM | Report abuse

AWWWB.COM openly challenges GOOGLE.COM----

----AWWWB.COM Refracted Word (patent software) challenges Google's [Query predictions in the search box] and [Searches related to search].
----If the search engines such as GOOGLE and BING are compared to buses, AWWWB.COM Refracted Word (patent software) then is the special car for you.
----AWWWB.COM Refracted Word patent software will change the pattern of search engines in the world, is a brand new Internet technology to generate refracted words from plenty of Internet search words, which is different from the candidate words (including original input words) prompted by traditional search engines. This is a major missing in current search engines.
----The principle of AWWWB.COM Refracted Word patent software: we tend to cudgel our brains when selecting appropriate words to search. In fact, there is normally a certain type of association among various search words used by an Internet user in a short period. This patent software, based on the search words used by plentiful Internet users, offers later users candidate words guidance and as well updates the words from time to time so as to reduce repeated hard thinking.
----After the installation of this patent software, refracted words will be automatically prompted while users are searching in search boxes at any websites. For example, unexpected news clues can be refracted when news reports input a search word, please kindly experience it.
----AWWWB.COM Refracted Word (free software) can save Internet users 30% search time, letting you experience the joy from gold rush to Midas touch. It sometimes directly provides you the surprise results unavailable from traditional search engines.
----Screenshot:http://comcn.awwwb.com/entu.jpg

Posted by: awwwbcom | November 3, 2010 4:47 AM | Report abuse

AWWWB.COM openly challenges GOOGLE.COM----

----AWWWB.COM Refracted Word (patent software) challenges Google's [Query predictions in the search box] and [Searches related to search].
----If the search engines such as GOOGLE and BING are compared to buses, AWWWB.COM Refracted Word (patent software) then is the special car for you.
----AWWWB.COM Refracted Word patent software will change the pattern of search engines in the world, is a brand new Internet technology to generate refracted words from plenty of Internet search words, which is different from the candidate words (including original input words) prompted by traditional search engines. This is a major missing in current search engines.
----The principle of AWWWB.COM Refracted Word patent software: we tend to cudgel our brains when selecting appropriate words to search. In fact, there is normally a certain type of association among various search words used by an Internet user in a short period. This patent software, based on the search words used by plentiful Internet users, offers later users candidate words guidance and as well updates the words from time to time so as to reduce repeated hard thinking.
----After the installation of this patent software, refracted words will be automatically prompted while users are searching in search boxes at any websites. For example, unexpected news clues can be refracted when news reports input a search word, please kindly experience it.
----AWWWB.COM Refracted Word (free software) can save Internet users 30% search time, letting you experience the joy from gold rush to Midas touch. It sometimes directly provides you the surprise results unavailable from traditional search engines.
----Screenshot:http://comcn.awwwb.com/entu.jpg

Posted by: awwwbcom | November 3, 2010 4:49 AM | Report abuse

No net neutrality? Good for industry and the public. No universal service? Good. Move out of Hootervile if you aren't happy with your internet service.

This is actually a bigger tech policy story than the Google settlement and should be the lead on your feed today.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | November 3, 2010 5:04 AM | Report abuse

Buzz was a massive failure for Google. Assuming that users were ok with their personal info being sent out to others without their knowledge was a stunningly bad business decision.

Posted by: TheHillman | November 3, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

That figures, Google messes up and everyone gets pocket change that doesn't even go in their pocket. Google is a muti-BILLION dollar business, who cares if a few peoples lives or careers were ruined because of their screw up. Please, 8.5 million to Google is nothing!

NOTHING!!

Posted by: Sonelt | November 4, 2010 7:11 AM | Report abuse

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