Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Google Privacy Your Rights Online

Lawmakers Ask For FTC Investigation of Google Buzz 131

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the always-with-the-investigating dept.
angry tapir writes "Eleven US lawmakers have asked the FTC to investigate Google's launch of its Buzz social-networking product for breaches of consumer privacy. The representatives — six Democrats and five Republicans from the House Energy and Commerce Committee — noted in their letter that Google's roll-out of Buzz exposed private information of users to Google's Gmail service to outsiders. In one case, a 9-year-old girl accidentally shared her contact list in Gmail with a person who has a 'sexually charged' username, the lawmakers said in the letter."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Lawmakers Ask For FTC Investigation of Google Buzz

Comments Filter:
  • penishead (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Think of the children! We can't let them talk to people with sexually charged usernames! ESPECIALLY NOT OTHER CHILDREN!

  • by garcia (6573) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @10:50AM (#31687732) Homepage

    "In one case, a 9-year-old girl accidentally shared her contact list in Gmail with a person who has a 'sexually charged' username, the lawmakers said in the letter."

    In one case, the parents of a 9 year old girl weren't paying attention, like they should have been, while their daughter surfed the web and they were upset at their lack of parenting skills and decided it imperative that they defer to the Federal Government to help them solve this problem.

    • by Spad (470073) <slashdot@@@spad...co...uk> on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @10:51AM (#31687772) Homepage

      Because perverts and only perverts have "sexually charged" usernames on the internet!

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @11:08AM (#31688034)

      "In one case, a 9-year-old girl accidentally shared her contact list in Gmail with a person who has a 'sexually charged' username, the lawmakers said in the letter."

      In one case, the parents of a 9 year old girl weren't paying attention, like they should have been, while their daughter surfed the web and they were upset at their lack of parenting skills and decided it imperative that they defer to the Federal Government to help them solve this problem.

      GMail ToS:

      2.3 You may not use the Services and may not accept the Terms if (a) you are not of legal age to form a binding contract with Google, or (b) you are a person barred from receiving the Services under the laws of the United States or other countries including the country in which you are resident or from which you use the Services.

      9 you say?

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      A 9y/o girl has a Buzz account. That, my friend, is the problem. To hell with mom and dad making sure you uses it responsibly...she should have it in the first place. She probably has a cell phone, too.

      • by PatHMV (701344) <post@patrickmartin.com> on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @12:49PM (#31689468) Homepage
        THAT was the problem with Buzz. If you had a Gmail account, suddenly one day, BOOM! You had a Buzz account, too. There's a great deal of debate whether any action at all on the user's part was required in the initial launch to create the publicly shared "followers" list based on your contacts, but at most, a very poorly worded "confirmation" button was clicked. Even if you told Google, on the splash page announcing Buzz, that you were not interested in learning more about it, a "Buzz" label was still placed on your Gmail page, and clicking that link most definitely activated a "Buzz" account. It's really a misnomer to talk of a separate "Buzz" account, because it was part and parcel, and remains so, of the Gmail service. Even now, having turned off every bit of Buzz that I possibly can with Google, it's still possible for people to "follow" my Gmail account. They can't actually see anything I do, Google swears to me, but the mere fact that I can have followers means that just by virtue of having a Gmail account, I am at least some part of the Buzz system. In other words, it ain't the parents' fault that the child had a Buzz account. Facebook, yeah, you can hold the parents responsible for that, because it takes actual conscious action by a user to go to Facebook and create an account and give it information about yourself. Google removed that hassle from us by adding us into Buzz whether we wanted to or not. Buzz is the most obnoxious and evil thing Google has ever done.
    • The cellphone thing I get. "I'm lost, bad man following me," understood. But an e-mail address? Doesn't fly. It's not like e-mail is some great technological novelty, the quicker a child is exposed to it, works with it, develops skills with it, the better s/he will do later on in school. Use of e-mail is monkey-hammer dead simple, is "mastered" in twenty minutes. And the only "social networks" the kid needs to be on is the one that ensures she gets a good seat on the school bus or cafeteria table.

      • by bkr1_2k (237627)

        Speaking as a divorced parent, my kid had an email account specifically to communicate with me from another country. I didn't like it but it's a lot easier to coordinate than IM and phone conversations with a significant time difference.

        That said, she was never allowed any social networking accounts until well after she was 14, which is still too young, in my opinion, but a bit more reasonable.

      • by dangitman (862676)

        The cellphone thing I get. "I'm lost, bad man following me," understood. But an e-mail address? Doesn't fly.

        It's so she can notify the fire department when her office catches fire. [youtube.com]

      • When I was 9, I wrote letters to friends who didn't live near me (for example, children my age of people my parents met at university). If I were 9 now, I'd probably want to exchange emails with them instead. I don't see anything particularly wrong with this, at the very least it would improve the child's typing ability, which might still be important when they leave school if we haven't invented a better means of text entry by then.
    • by shentino (1139071)

      That doesn't mean Google should get off for its rather facebook-esque manner of autofollowing everyone on the contact list.

    • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @11:28AM (#31688366)

      Old "parenting skills": 1) Place child in front of TV. 2) Insert Disney DVD 3) Press "Play". 4) Return in 90 minutes. 5) Repeat.

      New "parenting skills": 1) Place child in front of computer. 2) Turn on computer. 3) Before going to bed, put the child in bed.

      It is said that our children are the future . . . so let's worry about them then, and not now.

      • by Rogerborg (306625)

        Well said! We need to teach our kids useful life skills, like posting expert opinions on subjects of which they have no personal knowledge.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Red Flayer (890720)
        Meh. You left out a few, here's one:

        Older "parenting skills": 1) Place child in yard. 2) Go back to whatever you were doing 3) Whup the kids if they get back after dinnertime.

        Here's the thing... a lot of parents just don't understand that letting their kids use the internet unsupervised puts them in potential contact with EVERY person who also has internet access. Period.

        This requires fundamental differences in how child's play is supervised, if you wish to avoid the headaches unfettered internet acce
      • Any parent with common sense taught their children how to operate the DVD player so they could better ignore their children.

      • by dangitman (862676)

        Old "parenting skills": 1) Place child in front of TV. 2) Insert Disney DVD 3) Press "Play". 4) Return in 90 minutes. 5) Repeat.

        Old? That's practically futuristic. The old parenting technique goes like this:

        1. Send child to work in a coal mine.
        2. There is no step two.
      • by elf (18882)
        I'm clearly doing it wrong. In my case it's more like "3) hope your child goes to bed at some point" =)
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by mthorman100 (903884)
        Really old parenting skills: Teach the child to read, write, and use logic and give them access to a public library. Learn how to yell at kid for reading in the dark or under the covers after bedtime using a flashlight. If parents are illiterate and don't believe that reading and writing are useful skills, remind them that getting a civil service job requires a written test as does a driver's license. Really really old parenting skills: Turn child over to tutor and nanny (if you're rich) and send child
    • by discord5 (798235) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @11:31AM (#31688422)

      "In one case, a 9-year-old girl accidentally shared her contact list in Gmail with a person who has a 'sexually charged' username, the lawmakers said in the letter."

      In one case, the parents of a 9 year old girl weren't paying attention, like they should have been, while their daughter surfed the web

      In other news a Mr. Dick Johnson also known to some as Richard Johnson was arrested last night for the use of his obscene name on the internet. Mr Johnson, a youth councelor at a local elementary school, was exposed to have an obscene name on the internet by the social networking service Google Buzz.

      "We never questioned the mans name," spoke a school representative, "until he was found using the internet. I guess he contacted one of the parents and with the whole social-thingy-network of the Googles his name spread to children online. Stern action must be taken against people with silly names and Google to protect our children."

      In the meantime an organisation has formed to protest this incident. The organisation known as "Protecting Eccentric Names from Internet Surfers" (P.E.N.I.S.) is making a stance against social networking incidents where the use of proper names has sparked incidents with parents of young children. Willy Dickins, head of the P.E.N.I.S. committee, commented that his name has often lead to misunderstandings. "Last year I got arrested for befriending someone on facebook and trying to send them a message", Willy spoke, "since that day I've been using the pseudonym FreeWilly, which is symbolic for me wanting to be free to use my own name again."

      "It's all about the perception of my name and the context people see it in." said private Parts, a soldier in marine corps, "When I go online with my rank and surname, people automatically label me as a pervert.". The ever growing member list of P.E.N.I.S. shows that this problem is growing fast, and with the advent of technology expanding into areas where children may be confronted with these dubious names.

    • by Tharsman (1364603) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @11:38AM (#31688530)

      "In one case, a 9-year-old girl accidentally shared her contact list in Gmail with a person who has a 'sexually charged' username, the lawmakers said in the letter."

      In one case, the parents of a 9 year old girl weren't paying attention, like they should have been, while their daughter surfed the web and they were upset at their lack of parenting skills and decided it imperative that they defer to the Federal Government to help them solve this problem.

      Maybe, just maybe, mommy and daddy did their work and considered Gmail safe. And maybe, just maybe, Google decided it was OK to opt everyone into Buzz without letting anyone know about it.

      People in /. love to blame this kind of stuff on parents, but fact is, Google pushed Buzz into any gmail user without informing properly. It just suddenly showed up there. You would have to do daily audits of every single action your child takes in the internet if you wanted to catch this, and even then it would had been easy to miss the change.

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Dunega (901960)

        Maybe, just maybe, mommy and daddy did their work and considered Gmail safe.

        Maybe, just maybe, but most likely not. A 9 year old should not be using the internet unsupervised, period.

      • by Akita24 (1080779)
        Considering that it's a violation of the TOS to have an account and not be of legal age, the parents either cut their 9 y/o loose on the WorldWideEvil, or were negligent in their assessment that it was "safe." Google "told" them it was unacceptable for a minor to use the service.
    • However, when the US government awarded a patent to Microsoft to sell your photos, information and calendar information to the highest bidder, they didn't think that was a problem.

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      And THAT right there, the expecting tech to be the babysitter and running to nanny government when it isn't all Sesame Street, is what pisses me off. As a man raising two boys I am proud to say while my boys have always had access to tech I have never allowed it to do my job. When my boys wanted to play video games I didn't just hand them a "magic box" but instead I showed them how it works, how pixels were drawn, how characters were made and how editing DOOM WADs (remember those?) allowed them to change wh

    • by Have Brain Will Rent (1031664) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @02:08PM (#31690618)

      Normally I am the first one up with the "parents need to be responsible for what their kids are doing" flag. I was raised at a time when there wasn't much concern/awareness of sexual predators, skinned knees, occasional fights and so on and we were allowed, by parents considered to be quite conscientious for the time, to run free to an extent that today would get most kids seized by child welfare. And I certainly don't want to live in a society that is run at the level of the lowest common denominator of human intelligence and emotional sensibilities.

      But there has to be an element of realism to all this. Even the best of parents cannot monitor their children 24/7. Do the kids have access to a computer anywhere else, like say at school? Well then how can a parent control that? Do the kids ever visit their friend's house where there is a computer? Then, other than never letting their kids visit the homes of their friends, how can the parents exercise absolute control over that?

      And let's not forget the most important thing... kids are smart and learning 24/7 how to do what they want to do and unless parents are spending 24/7 trying to keep ahead of the the kid's learning curve then the kids will get access to things without the knowledge of their parents.... or at least without the real-time knowledge of their parents. Want to bet who knows more about smart phones - an average 12 year old or an average 35 year old? I'd bet on the 12 year old.

      So let's start from the realistic premise that even good parents cannot monitor their kids at all times. And let's also realize that even good parents cannot instil adult level sensibility in a child, i.e. kids do dumb/dangerous/risky/strange things because they are kids.

      If you accept that premise then one question that arises will be what can the rest of us (sometimes known as society) do to protect kids from their more dangerous activities? And the next question might be "will enacting that protection harm the rights of adults (sometimes known as society) to a degree that makes it difficult to justify the benefit received by the children?"

    • by mrmeval (662166)

      If they bitch slap Google for this I'm for it. They did this in a highly obnoxious and offensive way. It took wading through their crap to turn it off when they gave up with the howling and just forced all my accounts to use it. I have no idea who got what even though I've turned that crap off.

      If they get raped with an annual privacy violation fee I expect a higher tax rebate and I'll cackle all the way to the bank.

    • They made the babies which should be enough. You can't expect them to watch these little beings all day. How are parents supposed to have fun?
  • by Chrisq (894406) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @10:50AM (#31687742)

    a "sexually charged" username

    What, like Dick Dynamo?

  • by headkase (533448) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @10:51AM (#31687766)
    Why are politicians so evil? It's one thing to say that it could be a privacy issue: look into that. But when they start getting in "sexually charged" terminology its like saying the email name was "RepublicanDick." It's fear mongering and grandstanding, nothing more.
    • Adaptation (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @10:59AM (#31687922)

      If you suddenly discovered a way of phrasing your requests to your boss that always got you what you wanted, wouldn't you always try to phrase things that way?

      We are the bosses of the politicians, so when the politicians realize that they can get whatever they want if they wave the for-the-children flag, I think we can easily understand why they do it so often.

      • If you suddenly discovered a way of phrasing your requests to your boss that always got you what you wanted, wouldn't you always try to phrase things that way?

        No, I wouldn't, especially not if I was doing a public service. Because sometimes, shockingly, there are things more important than whether or not I get what I want, such as, oh, say, the truth. If you aren't dealing with the truth, you probably won't actually solve the problem.

        I'll understand if you think it's a bit naive to expect that sort of attitude from others though.

    • by Chrisq (894406)

      Why are politicians so evil? It's one thing to say that it could be a privacy issue: look into that. But when they start getting in "sexually charged" terminology its like saying the email name was "RepublicanDick." It's fear mongering and grandstanding, nothing more.

      Or Dick chainlike

    • Re:Evil (Score:4, Interesting)

      by twidarkling (1537077) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @11:14AM (#31688148)

      I don't think it's a case of politicians being evil in things like this. It's a case of being more emotional than logical. Logically, if you solve the privacy angle, you solve the rest of it, but emotionally, the "children must be protected" clouds their thinking. It's more important than privacy, to their thinking.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jawn98685 (687784)
      Hey, it's an election year and I need all the mileage I can get out of whatever "...protected the children..." headlines I can generate, you insensitive clod.
    • Why are politicians so evil?

      Evil, hell-- I'm just wondering why they have so much TIME on their hands...

  • by Useful Wheat (1488675) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @10:51AM (#31687768)

    Please! Won't somebody think of the children surfing the internet without adult supervision! Gmail only added people that you had repeated email correspondence with, which means that the 9 year old girl was perfectly capable of picking up sexual predators on her own. Also? Putting any kind of responsibility on the parents is clearly across the line.

    • Thank you! I'm sick of all these people saying my children are somehow my responsibility.
    • by dangitman (862676)

      Gmail only added people that you had repeated email correspondence with, which means that the 9 year old girl was perfectly capable of picking up sexual predators on her own.

      This also means that Buzz may have actually exposed sexual predators, who would have remained hidden otherwise. Assuming there was any sexual predation involved, of course.

  • by nycguy (892403) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @10:57AM (#31687876)
    ...because Microsoft isn't capable of even attempting something like Buzz.

    In all seriousness, though, between Google's handling of the Buzz launch, Facebook's handling of privacy settings, etc., it's pretty clear that the users of these services are the product, not the services themselves.
    • by alen (225700) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @10:59AM (#31687920)

      MS is an investor in facebook. why reinvent the wheel when you can just invest in someone to do it for you?

    • by mweather (1089505) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @11:30AM (#31688408)
      "t's pretty clear that the users of these services are the product," As is the case of every single ad supported medium. TV, news, magazines, search engines, blogs, you name it.
    • by BitZtream (692029)

      Facebook's handling of privacy settings

      Anyone who makes this statement is a fucking moron. I stress the fucking part.

      Facebook is for voyeurs. You don't post shit to facebook unless you want people to see it. Every single facebook user wants the attention and likes to be looked at.

      If you think at any point anything you do on Facebook, or the Internet as a whole is private, you don't need to be using the Internet. You are too stupid to qualify to use it. Turn off your computer until you realize that shar

  • I think it's a joke name, sir, like 'Sillius Soddus' or 'Bigus Dickus'.

    But I have a vewy gweat fwiend in Wome named 'Bigus Dickus'!



    Low hanging fruit ... I know.
  • by Thanshin (1188877) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @11:02AM (#31687954)

    If I were to fight the "dangers" an unsupervised 9 year old can find on the web I'd clearly start by how he uses a particular function in a particular website. /sarcasm

    It's frightening to think that someone can publicly say such idiocies and journalists (or whoever hears him first) won't directly laugh in his face and call him names.

  • Oh wow (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    You know, one time I accidentally almost made a left turn when I should have made a right turn, maybe we can investigate traffic lights next.

            -- "UberCharged"

  • Time to scrub my hard drive.
  • Just a thought... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MikeRT (947531) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @11:20AM (#31688254) Homepage
    Why did a 9 year old girl have contact with someone with a "sexually charged username?" I don't recall Google Buzz automatically setting me up with every Tom, Dick and Harry that was in my address book (which itself seems to be generated by the contact info of the people you knowingly contact)...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Enderandrew (866215)

      I keep hearing how others were set to auto-follow others. I did not have this experience. Buzz suggested people for me to follow from my Contacts, but I didn't auto-follow anyone.

      • Re:Just a thought... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @12:23PM (#31689118)

        The auto-follow feature was set for people you had repeated correspondence with - i.e. lots of gmail conversations.

        In other words, this 9 year old wasn't introduced to the person with the "sexually charged username", whatever the hell that means, the kid had been talking to this guy many times well before Buzz launched.

        Buzz just made it plain that the two had been corresponding for some time now.

        I swear, politicians have to be some of the dumbest fucking people on earth, it drives me insane sometimes.

        • by PatHMV (701344)
          No, no, no. You don't understand what Buzz did. Once Google auto-completed the contacts list, that list was PUBLIC. There's nothing in TFA to suggest that the 9 year old girl had been corresponding with the "sexually charged username." If the girl activated Buzz (which was very, VERY easy to do without realizing what Google was doing to you) in the first day or two of its operations, then all of her 9 year old friends would be listed automatically as her followers, and THAT list of followers was made public
          • by nomadic (141991)
            Shhh, it's more fun to scream and rave about government intervention and parental inattention, because anytime anyone ever expresses any worry over children they're automatically alarmist fascists.
            • by PatHMV (701344)
              lol Clearly, you are correct, as the post to which I replied has now been modified "+5, Informative". Now I know the secret to great karma... call all those concerned with children alarmist fascists, and slip in a side comment calling politicians fucking dumb. Man, how could I have not realized this for so long?!?!?!?
  • Somehow I think technology ultimately goes against privacy. Which deserves some thinking. People are entitled to privacy, the right to be left alone, but perhaps "right to privacy" is often confused, or abused, with a right to isolation, of self or others, to maintain ignorance of facts or events, to secrecy, or of doing illegal-immoral things out of sight. For example, many large properties have private slaves, but out of sight, where nobody can see. They have a right to their privacy. Technology's role
  • Foes list (Score:3, Funny)

    by OglinTatas (710589) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @11:28AM (#31688372)

    I hereby request all you 9 year old girls to add me to your foes list.

  • friends (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jonpublic (676412) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @11:31AM (#31688420)

    Let's say I have some friends who despite my best efforts still do drugs. They have destructive tendencies. I try and help them out, steer them away from bad choices and towards good choices.

    Do I really want someone who've I've emailed about a job to suddenly know that I am associated with people who have active drug problems?

    Better yet, why should anyone else have access to the list of people I communicating with? People seem to be ignoring the privacy issue here and focusing on the 9 year old and the Google can do no harm bullshit.

    • by BitZtream (692029)

      What an awesome friend, I'd be so excited to have a friend who was ashamed of me. I'm sure I'd listen to his advice since it clearly has less to do with my well being and more to do with his stigma against drugs.

      Its likely that your friends realize how selfish and transparent you are and don't really give a shit what you think of their habits. Many people are comfortable with their place in lives, even if you aren't.

      If you're afraid of people knowing who you associate with then you have a serious problem

      • by jonpublic (676412)

        One of my friends got fired for simple pictures of him on the internet.

        While it's great that you feel that you feel I shouldn't need to hide my associations from you, I have a right to privacy, especially from people who are inclined to be less than understanding.

        I feel that privacy allows me to allow to carry on honest conversations.

  • > In one case, a 9-year-old girl accidentally shared her contact
    > list in Gmail with a person who has a "sexually charged" username,
    > the lawmakers said in the letter.""

    So... basically, people who's parents didn't think things through [wikipedia.org] are automatically considered pedophiles?

    c.

  • The letter itself... (Score:3, Informative)

    by alispguru (72689) <bane@gs[ ]om ['t.c' in gap]> on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @11:41AM (#31688572) Journal
    is here [house.gov].

    Weird that nobody who reported on this linked to the original letter.

    I went looking for it primarily to get the complete list of signers:

    Joe Barton (TX), Frank Pallone (NJ), Mike Rogers (MI), Jan Schakowsky (IL), Tim Murphy (PA), Bruce Braley (IA), Mike Burgess (TX), G.K. Butterfield (NC), Steve Scalise (LA), and Donna Christensen (V.I.)

    I was expecting to see someone from Redmond, WA in there...
  • In one case, a 9-year-old girl accidentally shared her contact list in Gmail with a person who has a "sexually charged" username, the lawmakers said in the letter."

    Oh, no, she superpoked DickCheney!

  • Stranger (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew@gmaUMLAUTil.com minus punct> on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @12:18PM (#31689048) Homepage Journal

    Having read the letter, what concerns me is that this mother insists their daughter automatically shared private data with a complete stranger.

    I think the politcians are overreacting. I get that. I think this is also a case of bad parenting to let a 9 year old have their own email address and not watch them when they're on the computer.

    However, not only did Buzz not auto-follow anyone, but it never suggested a stranger to me. How would someone be in your Gmail contact list if you never had any contact with them before? It seems like this is all a major flawed premise that this girl was forced to have contact with this evil user without the girl's consent, when it reality that user was probably in the contact list for a reason.

  • Some perspective (Score:5, Informative)

    by Daetrin (576516) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @12:36PM (#31689296)
    People seem to be jumping on either the "pro-Google" bandwagon or the "anti-'think of the children'" bandwagon left and right. So let's stop and consider this rationally.

    Google has changed Buzz to address privacy concerns multiple times. In fact they made so many changes so quickly that it's hard to document exactly what settings it had when without a lot of research. However early on it was easily possible to have the following scenario:

    "InnocentUser," a legal adult, has a Gmail account. (Let's even say they got one sometime after July 2009, so Gmail wasn't even in "beta" at the time, just to end-run one particular argument.) They've emailed a number of people using this account. They've also gotten several scary emails from "ImaPredator," which they never responded to.

    When Buzz was launched InnocentUser's Google Profile was indexed. The easiest way for this to happen was to "try out" Buzz like Google urged everyone with a Gmail account. However numerous people have reported finding they had their Google Profile indexed without ever actually trying Buzz.

    Once your Google Profile was automatically integrated with Buzz it would auto-follow anyone who you emailed with a lot. So InnocentUser has a lot of their usual contacts auto-followed and made visible in their Google Profile. Meanwhile ImaPredator joins Buzz, which notices they emailed InnocentUser a lot (regardless of the fact that InnocentUser never emailed back,) and auto-follows them. Now ImaPredator can go to InnocentUser's Google Profile and see the list of their most common contacts.

    That's pretty bad. Of course it's even worse that perhaps InnocentUser did email back ImaPredator once, with a message saying something like "If you ever email me again I'm going to report you to the police." That's good enough for Buzz to decide InnocentUser ought to auto-follow ImaPredator as well! (Once of the people Buzz set me up to auto-follow was someone who i had a single email exchange with. Perhaps because it occurred very shortly before Buzz went live.)

    There _was_ an option to disable Buzz. However initially at least all that did was remove the Buzz UI from your end. Your profile was still visible to others and still listed your regular contacts. CNET and other sites published detailed tutorials about how to _actually_ go through all the options and disable Buzz "for realz" because of all the privacy concerns.

    When the inevitable, and in my mind quite justified, complaints started, Google went through several rounds of apologizing (but usually with weasel wording such as "we're sorry our users feel like their privacy has been violated" rather than "we're sorry we screwed up") and revising Buzz's behaviour and options. After the third or so revision they reached the point where it was halfway reasonable, and it was fairly easy for everyone who still didn't like it to actually turn it off.

    Google definitely did something stupid. If they made the decision to auto-include everyone with a Gmail account in Buzz because they thought it was the only way to catch up with Facebook and Twitter in a reasonable amount of time then what they did could arguably be considered Evil as well. It's unfortunate that the lawmakers are pulling the "think of the children" card when Google clearly did something wrong regardless of the age of the people involved, but that doesn't somehow magically invalidate the wrongness. Google did try to correct things after the fact, but that doesn't change the fact that they did something wrong to begin with, and it's quite possible that some people were hurt by Google's mistakes before changes were implemented.

    Certainly a slap on the wrist by the FCC would not be out of line. And an investigation into whether the issues were due to professional negligence or... whatever you call screwing over your users for a "quick buck," also seems quite reasonable to me. If something actually criminal was done (i leave it up to the actual lawyers to determine what would and would not be criminal in this case) then apologizing for it before the "police" actually catch you isn't enough to get you out of trouble. It doesn't work that way for the average citizen and it shouldn't work that way for corporations either.
    • by BitZtream (692029)

      People that email you don't get added to your contact list unless you reply to them, never have. I know this because I just logged into an account I setup specifically to get spam from all sorts of random companies when I buy something and the only people in the contact list are the ones I've replied to.

      I got the notice about Google Buzz on day one, had already heard about it from employees anyway. Next time I logged into my gmail account it asked me if I wanted to try it out. I said no. It hasn't done

      • by Daetrin (576516)
        "People that email you don't get added to your contact list unless you reply to them, never have."

        *sigh* If you're going to respond to a post could you please read the entire post?

        I never claimed people that email get added to your follow list even if you don't respond to them. I claimed that, at least at launch, you could get added to the follow list of people who emailed you even if you never responded to them. The list of people you are following and the list of people following you are entirely dist
    • by zcold (916632)
      I think you are also missing the point as well.. GMail ToS: 2.3 You may not use the Services and may not accept the Terms if (a) you are not of legal age to form a binding contract with Google, or (b) you are a person barred from receiving the Services under the laws of the United States or other countries including the country in which you are resident or from which you use the Services. (a) would be the one to focus on..
      • by Daetrin (576516)
        I think you are also missing the point as well.. GMail ToS: 2.3 You may not use the Services and may not accept the Terms if (a) you are not of legal age to form a binding contract with Google[...]

        No, i'm not. Please pay better attention. I will quote two bits from my original post. First, in the example i used: "'InnocentUser,' a legal adult, has a Gmail account."

        Second, "It's unfortunate that the lawmakers are pulling the 'think of the children' card when Google clearly did something wrong regardless
    • by Shadowlore (10860)

      Google definitely did something stupid. If they made the decision to auto-include everyone with a Gmail account in Buzz because they thought it was the only way to catch up with Facebook and Twitter in a reasonable amount of time then what they did could arguably be considered Evil as well.

      Not exactly. Evil requires intent. No "accidental evil" exists. Doing something stupid != being evil. For your scenario to be evil they would have to have *known* what they were doing was evil, which is not even shown. Wr

      • by Daetrin (576516)
        Okay, you're correct. If they made that decision just to gain marketshare but really truly had no conception that anyone would object to the privacy controls they had implemented, then that demonstrated a particular kind of blindness, but not evil.

        I will delve a bit deeper into the philosophic waters though. A motive does not have to be evil in order for actions taken in regard to it to be evil. If Google was aware that releasing Buzz as-was would hurt people, but choose to do that anyways in pursuit of t
  • Oligarch 1:

    Eleven U.S. lawmakers have asked the FTC to investigate Google's launch of its Buzz social-networking product for breaches of consumer privacy.

    Oligarch 2:

    Saying an old e-mail or your online photo album should have the same privacy protection from police as your home filing cabinet, Google, Microsoft and others said Tuesday they will ask Congress to overhaul a 24-year-old federal law that helps define online and mobile phone privacy.

    Isn't it nice to have such honorable oligarchs? Nobly bickering o

  • Lovemonkey is my given name..... DAMN!!!
  • This post needs a 'share on Buzz' icon.
  • Normally it takes years for them to see any problems, much less truly understand them.

    I wonder which corporation made "campaign contributions" to them in order to speed of their "noticing" an event that took place less than a month ago.

Never say you know a man until you have divided an inheritance with him.

Working...