The Secure Times

An online forum of the ABA Section of Antitrust Law's Privacy and Information Security Committee

Google Announces Buzz Settlement

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Yesterday, Google emailed its Gmail users to announce that a settlement had been reached in the class action suit over Google Buzz.   Google launched its social networking site, Buzz, in February, and automatically enrolled all Gmail users in Buzz.  A lawsuit was filed by some Buzz users alleging that Buzz exposed personal data, including personal contact information, place of residence, occupation and users’ most frequent Gmail contacts, without appropriate user consent.  The complaint also states that Buzz located pictures, video, text and other data that its Gmail users had posted to other websites such as YouTube and automatically sent those posts to the email accounts of users’ frequent email contacts without the users’ knowledge or consent.

As part of the settlement, Google will establish an $8.5 million Common Fund, which will fund Internet privacy policy and privacy education organizations, as well as pay attorneys’ fees and the litigation costs and expenses.  The settlement acknowledges that Google has made changes to Buzz since its launch to clarify Buzz’s operations and users’ options, and to give users more control over their privacy settings, but Google also agreed to take more action to educate users about the privacy features of Buzz.  Final approval of the settlement will be considered by the court on January 31, 2011.  More information about the settlement can be found here.



Author: Heather Enlow-Novitsky

VP, Assistant General Counsel, Bank of America Merchant Services

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