Google Buzz Alleged by EPIC for Breaking Privacy Laws

Google is facing quite a bit of troubles since the launch of its new social media project called “Google Buzz”. Criticized by many people earlier on and now “Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)” has accused Google Buzz of breaking privacy laws. A complaint has been filed in US Federal Trade Commission by EPIC. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been asked to investigate the issue and urge Google to stop/change certain feature of Buzz. buzz logo

Gmail users are automatically signed up for Google Buzz, which makes it an Opt-out service. This service should be made Opt-in instead, says EPIC.

In a recent Buzz Tweak, Google changed the way followers were added to the Buzz. Previously, all email contacts were added as followers but now a page with “Check/Uncheck” option allows users to select who they want to follow or not. EPIC is also concerned about this as they think Google should not use private address books to generate followers list.

Google also infringed upon users privacy without any prior warnings (again Google Buzz is an Opt-out service), says EPIC.

Some Details of the Complaint:

This change in business practices and service terms violated user privacy expectations, diminished user privacy, contradicted Google’s own privacy policy, and may have also violated federal wiretap laws.

These business practices impact more than 37 million users of Gmail who fall within the jurisdiction of the United States Federal Trade Commission.

EPIC urges the Commission to investigate Google, determine the extent of the harm to consumer privacy and safety, require Google to provide Gmail users with opt-in consent to the Google Buzz service, require Google to give Gmail users meaningful control over personal information, require Google to provide notice to and request consent from Gmail users before making material changes to their privacy policy in the future, and seek appropriate injunctive and compensatory relief.

Google has been criticized even though they are working hard to fix the issues. They have managed to overcome few problems but EPIC isn’t satisfied.

Google is yet to comment on the situation but hopefully there will be an explanation quite soon.

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