[LINK] ITWire: 'Google settles Buzz class action'

Roger Clarke Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Wed Nov 3 14:48:59 AEDT 2010

-   $8.5 million to an independent fund, most of which will support
     organizations promoting privacy education and policy on the web
-   plus ensuring that Buzz users can join this on-line community
     without compromising their privacy]

Google settles Buzz class action
By David Heath
Wednesday, 03 November 2010 12:36

In an email to all US-based registered users of Google Buzz, Google 
has announced details of the settlement reached with a group of Buzz 
users concerned about privacy flaws in the product.

Earlier this year, Google launched Buzz and almost immediately 
reports emerged of a major privacy flaw in the product (for instance, 
see the first comment in the link above) where the people a user 
followed and those that followed the user was publicly visible.

A number of early Buzz adopters sued Google over this major problem 
(which was repaired very quickly after Google was made aware) on the 
basis that the system should never have been released in such a 
privacy-poor state.

On-line services have has a very chequered career when it comes to 
managing subscribers' privacy.  For instance, Facebook endured the 
recent "Quit Facebook Day" and also has long-pasting bad press over 
it's constantly-changing privacy landscape.

"We are satisfied with the agreement and are glad to move forward," 
said a Google spokesperson via the official class-action website 
http://www.BuzzClassAction.com . "We have always been committed to 
offering users transparency and choice in Buzz and all our products, 
and will continue to work together with users to provide the best 
experience possible."

Gary E. Mason, counsel for the Plaintiffs in the litigation, said, 
"We feel this Settlement provides many benefits to Class Members, 
including providing a significant amount of money to non-profit 
groups committed to educating users about Internet privacy and 
ensuring that Buzz users can join this on-line community without 
compromising their privacy."

Today, Google has sent an email to all registered US-based Buzz users 
detailing the settlement reached.  The contents are as follows:

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 (http://buzz.google.com), a service we 
launched within Gmail in February of this year.

Shortly after its launch, we heard from a number of people who were 
concerned about privacy. In addition, we were sued by a group of Buzz 
users and recently reached a settlement in this case.

The settlement acknowledges that we quickly changed the service to 
address users' concerns. In addition, Google has committed $8.5 
million to an independent fund, most of which will support 
organizations promoting privacy education and policy on the web. We 
will also do more to educate people about privacy controls specific 
to Buzz. The more people know about privacy online, the better their 
online experience will be.

Just to be clear, this is not a settlement in which people who use 
Gmail can file to receive compensation. Everyone in the U.S. who uses 
Gmail is included in the settlement, unless you personally decide to 
opt out before December 6, 2010. The Court will consider final 
approval of the agreement on January 31, 2011. This email is a 
summary of the settlement, and more detailed information and 
instructions approved by the court, including instructions about how 
to opt out, object, or comment, are available at 

This mandatory announcement was sent to all Gmail users in the United 
States as part of a legal settlement and was authorized by the United 
States District Court for the Northern District of California.

iTWire recommends that all parties to the action visit the official 
class action website and take the action most appropriate to their 

Roger Clarke                                 http://www.rogerclarke.com/
Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd      78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
                    Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, and 6288 6916
mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au                http://www.xamax.com.au/

Visiting Professor in the Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre      Uni of NSW
Visiting Professor in Computer Science    Australian National University

More information about the Link mailing list