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Google Buzz May Break Privacy Laws

Google Buzz May Break Privacy Laws

Google’s new social networking service, Google Buzz has suffered a few setbacks since its launch earlier this month. Heralded by Google as a way to centralise social networking by aggregating features already available from sites such as Twitter and Facebook, the rollout of Google Buzz was immediately criticised by users and the media.

The main complaint was that Google Buzz made available to all on a users list private information like who the Google Mail account holder e-mailed the most.

The Electronic Privacy Investigation Centre (EPIC) has now filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against Google for the way it has rolled out Google Buzz and believes it needs to be an entirely Opt-In service.

As such, EPIC’s complaint cited “clear harms” to service subscribers and alleged that the change in business practices “violated user expectations, diminished user privacy, contradicted Google’s privacy policy, and may have violated federal wiretap laws.”

“This is a significant breach of consumers’ expectations of privacy,” opined EPIC executive director Marc Rotenberg.

“Google should not be allowed to push users’ personal information into a social network they never requested.”

In Google’s defense, Google Buzz did not switch on automatically and it is a service that needs the user to accept before it is integrated into the users Google Mail account. What is not clear however is how much information is then exposed to Google’s social networking circle and that is at the heart of the complaint by many users of Google Buzz and now, EPIC.

Source: TGDaily

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Stuart Davidson

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