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Google Does Privacy Community Service for Buzz Bomb




Google understands better than any company that if you throw enough up against the wall something’s gotta stick. Take a look at the number of projects they are working on at any given time and there are bound to be successes and failures.

One of the most resounding failures of the recent past had been Google Buzz. Not only didn’t anyone truly understand what Google was trying to do with it, thus keeping adoption low, but they also rolled it out with one of the most public privacy gaffes of the Internet era. Earlier this year there was a lot of buzz around Buzz’s privacy starts and stops.

Well, Google has managed to settle a class action suit for an amount of money and a cause that amounts to community service in the privacy industry. SAI Business Insider reports:

Google settled a class action lawsuit brought against the company in response to privacy violations surrounding Buzz, its latest attempt at a social product, the company just announced.

Google Buzz was a disaster at launch, making a good deal of private information public without any explicit user consent. The company quickly introduced improvements in response to the backlash, a fact acknowledged in the settlement.

The settlement calls for Google to establish an $8.5 million fund “the majority of which will go to organizations focused on Internet privacy education and policy.” Google will also make further, unspecified efforts to educate its users about Buzz privacy issues.

You can read the press release from Google here.

So essentially Google is getting off light here. Off course, they are not out of the woods because lawyers will be lawyers and since there was one settlement someone probably figures this signifies blood in the water. Where there’s blood there will be sharks you know.

$8.5 million to Google is treated the same way as if the average person drops a dime. You may pick it up but it’s so little money that you may just move on without the risk of hurting yourself by bending over to pick it up.

The bottom line is this. Google stepped in one of the biggest privacy piles of “steaming hot” and walked away smelling like a rose. Not bad. How will this bode for future privacy actions taken against other Internet giants? It’s too early to tell but this certainly might help them breath a little easier.

Your thoughts?