Google settles Buzz lawsuit, tells Gmail users they get nothing

By on November 4, 2010, 9:30 AM
Google has agreed to allocate about $8.5 million to Internet privacy and policy organizations as part of a class action settlement involving its social networking experiment, Buzz, according to BBC News. The settlement acknowledges that Google has made many changes to Buzz to ease privacy concerns and the company will also make additional efforts to teach users about privacy on Buzz. A federal judge has given the settlement preliminary approval and the US District Court in San Jose, California, will consider final approval of the proposed settlement on January 31, 2011.

The privacy lawsuit was filed after Google added the social hub Buzz to Gmail back in February 2010. Buzz let its users follow their frequently e-mailed contacts, including distributing and commenting on shared content (status updates, links, photos, and videos). This list of e-mails could automatically be made public, which enraged users and privacy experts alike. "People I frequently e-mail" doesn't necessarily equate to "friends I want to follow" and a class action suit was formed, arguing that Google violated privacy rights by automatically adding Buzz to Gmail without making it clear what information would be shared and with whom.

Part of the legal settlement required Google to e-mail Gmail users in the US to inform them of the development (ironically, the e-mail ended up in the Spam folder). Google's choice to set up a privacy fund, however, means it won't offer compensation to individual users of Gmail; there are too many users in the settlement and too few suffered any actual damages for Google to bother paying them directly. You can read full terms of the agreement over at BuzzClassAction.com/FAQ. Also, the e-mail sent to Gmail users in the US is included below:

quote:

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 http://www.BuzzClassAction.com.

——————————————————————–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.

Google Inc. | 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway | Mountain View, CA 94043





User Comments: 16

Got something to say? Post a comment
taea00 said:

I don't know about anyone else, but this didn't end up in my spam folder. I received the email a few days apart from my different accounts though. Also the email and subsequent information allow you to opt out of this settlement, meaning you get nothing, and you can file your own settlement if you wish. There are also a few other options such as adding comments to the settle, or even going to the court house on the day of the hearing.

I wasn't very happy when Buzz first came out, but I felt that Google didn't make it very difficult to opt out and they were quick to listen to the communities outrage and changed it to an opt in policy. While they made a stupid mistake at first it seems to me at least that they're trying to make it right as quickly as they can.

Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Neither it did on my spam folder. I wasnt aware of this until I got the email, and never got buzz running and when it came on just disabled it.

Dont know what is the whole buzz about... see what I did there? =P

Jibberish18 said:

Read it and trashed it. Saw that it said the $8.5 Million would go into an independent fund to go to blah blah to teach blah blah about blah blah and yadda yadda AND whatever. Didn't like Buzz anyways.

gLitCh32 said:

Buzz does not seem interesting to me, and it was easy enough to disable. I do think services like that should be opt-in instead of opt-out though.

Serag said:

@gLitCh32

Yeah and that was the main point, at first Google forced Buzz on users and that's the reason behind all the fuss about Buzz.

matrix86 matrix86 said:

I hope people didn't get upset about not actually getting money from this lawsuit. I always found that suing for "emotional distress" or whatever was just a bunch of bull. Unless you actually loose, money, you have no right to sue for money.

But anyway, I do agree with a comment stated above that you should be able to opt in instead of opting out. It seems that opting out is the new trend. No matter what you do, an update happens that you have to opt out of if you don't want it.

Technochicken Technochicken, TechSpot Paladin, said:

It wasn't in my spam folder either. I don't really care though, as I've never really paid any attention to Buzz.

Jibberish18 said:

Buzz does not seem interesting to me, and it was easy enough to disable. I do think services like that should be opt-in instead of opt-out though.

If you remember correctly, it wasn't THAT easy to disable BUZZ when it was originally released. Most people THOUGHT it was gone and de-activated but in reality it wasn't.

vangrat said:

LOL, until this post, I didn't even know what Buzz was (a haircut?). As for sueing them.....they fixed the issue didn't they? Why is it that they still have to pay for a law suit?

sMILEY4ever said:

vangrat said:

LOL, until this post, I didn't even know what Buzz was (a haircut?). As for sueing them.....they fixed the issue didn't they? Why is it that they still have to pay for a law suit?

They're not paying that money. Read again.

Relic Relic, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Wasn't in my spam folder either but ya this isn't really shocking. If they did send out checks we'd get like a fraction of a penny which is pretty pointless.

vangrat said:

As for sueing them.....they fixed the issue didn't they? Why is it that they still have to pay for a law suit?

They settled the lawsuit and those are the terms Vangrat. Considering how much damage may have occurred I'd say they are pretty luck.

stewi0001 stewi0001 said:

Yea I got an e-mail Nov 2nd. it was in my inbox and I thought it was fake. incase anyone is wondering here is what mine said,

"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 http://www.BuzzClassAction.com.

------------------------------------------------------------
-------

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.

Google Inc. | 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway | Mountain View, CA 94043"

stewi0001 stewi0001 said:

opps sorry about that I thought the one on here was different my bad XD

dlen said:

I disabled it completely. I understand that company must develop new features to encourage new users but don't understand the approach that they start to share private information without clear statement that they want to do it and you have to opt-out from it somewhere in the submenu.

hitech0101 said:

I saw the feature but never used it.Felt like they were forcing it on all users.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Neither it did on my spam folder. I wasnt aware of this until I got the email, and never got buzz running and when it came on just disabled it.

Dont know what is the whole buzz about... see what I did there? =P

I do! You made a tediously bad pun, that was patently obvious in the first place. Congratulations...?

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