Google contacts Buzz users over $8.5 million lawsuit

Google announced Tuesday that it will settle in a class-action lawsuit brought against it regarding Google Buzz.

Millions of Google Buzz users were contacted Tuesday by Google regarding a class-action lawsuit settlement stemming from an online privacy debate sparked by the search giant.

The lawsuit, brought against Google by a group of Gmail users, claimed that Google's social networking tool Google Buzz, which was introduced in February 2010, violated users' privacy by automatically enrolling users in Google Buzz and publicly exposing private user data.

The settlement, the details of which are archived at BuzzClassAction.com, states that Google will establish an $8.5 million "Common Fund" to "fund organizations focused on Internet privacy policy or privacy education," as well as to cover the plaintiff's lawyers' fees and other expenses. Google also promises to "do more to educate users about the privacy aspects of Google Buzz" (the email sent today is supposedly the first step in this education).

The Buzz Over the Lawsuit

Google Buzz is a social networking platform tied into Google's popular webmail client, Gmail. It was introduced in February, appearing as an extra tab in users' Gmail inboxes. Privacy concerns immediately arose because Google generated a list (based on Gmail contacts and who they used the service Google Talk with the most) of users to follow. This quickly sparked outrage with many users concerned Google Buzz revealed personal connections (without allowing users to "opt-in"). People pointed out -- the people you e-mail and chat with the most often are sometimes not the people you want in your social networking Web.

Settlement's Impact on You

If you're wondering what this means for you, the violated Gmail and/or Google Buzz user, the answer is: basically nothing. Gmail users are unable to receive compensation, as the settlement acknowledges that Google has changed Google Buzz in such a way that privacy violation is no longer an issue.

Affected users (all Gmail users in the United States who had the opportunity to use Google Buzz before November 2) have four options: Opt out, object, comment, or do nothing. If you fail to opt-out before December 6, you agree to be part of the case and can no longer sue Google regarding Google Buzz privacy after the settlement has been finalised. Any objections to the settlement must be brought by January 10, 2011.

The settlement was granted preliminary approval on October 7, and will be considered for final approval on January 31, 2011.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Internet-based applications and servicesGooglelegal issuessocial networkssocial mediainternet

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?