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Google Settles Buzz Privacy Suit 165

Posted by timothy
from the lawyers-win-the-pie dept.
bouldin writes "This evening, Google e-mailed Gmail users who had been invited to Google Buzz to advise of settlement on a class-action privacy suit. The class action suit alleged privacy breaches due to the default privacy settings when Google rolled out the service. Terms of the settlement include $8 million to cover lawyer fees and fund privacy policy education on the Internet, but do not include cash payouts to Gmail users. With several outstanding class action privacy suits against Facebook and Zynga, it is interesting to see Google set this precedent."
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Google Settles Buzz Privacy Suit

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  • I for one (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ColdWetDog (752185) on Tuesday November 02, 2010 @10:38PM (#34108118) Homepage
    welcome our new, eight million dollar richer, lawyer Overlords.
  • Re:Precedent? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Skarecrow77 (1714214) on Tuesday November 02, 2010 @10:43PM (#34108142)

    "oops, we harmed you. we admit it. our bad. So uh, we're legally liable for it, but we've decided to pay somebody else. you know, someone who's not you. just letting you know."

  • by hawguy (1600213) on Tuesday November 02, 2010 @10:56PM (#34108216)

    It shouldn't be up to the user to "learn about my privacy" and how to control it -- it should be incumbent upon the company that holds my personal data to not release it without my explicit consent. Revealing to the world who I chat and email with the most was not a smart move on their part.

    If I post something on my Facebook wall, I expect the world to be able to see it - even if I've only allowed my "friends" to see it, I understand that I have no control over the data after my friends see it.

    However, if I send a lot of emails to my ex-girlfriend, I don't want my wife to find out about it when she sees my Google Buzz followers.

  • by geekmux (1040042) on Tuesday November 02, 2010 @11:05PM (#34108264)

    "...With several outstanding class action privacy suits against Facebook and Zynga, it is interesting to see Google set this precedent."

    Just goes to show you that as with most free services, you get what you pay for. And they (lawyers) get what they "paid" for.

  • by c0lo (1497653) on Tuesday November 02, 2010 @11:12PM (#34108306)

    And hire some more lawyers to win a case that was already won?

    Yes, that's a way better option... for the lawyers.

    Assuming Google caused you a higher loss than the amount you receive (and you can demonstrate the loss in the court), you can certainly go for it and cite this case in your suit.

    If you didn't lose something, help me understand why are you complaining?

  • Re:Official link (Score:4, Insightful)

    by itamblyn (867415) on Tuesday November 02, 2010 @11:59PM (#34108470) Homepage

    Follow the link provided in the email and then press "FAQ" on the website. RTFE(Read the fucking email).

    So your method of confirming that an email is real is to click on links in said email. Flawless.

  • by MrEricSir (398214) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @12:04AM (#34108498) Homepage

    Look, I enjoy Google's products as well but I think you're missing the point here; Google Buzz automatically took everyone on Gmail and published their contact list to the public.

    What kind of friend gives away your private information without your permission?

  • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @12:14AM (#34108514)

    What is the value of your privacy? How do you quantify the damage caused by loss of said privacy?

    This is the problem with lawsuits that try to reduce everything to dollar amounts. That might be an objective measure in some sense, but the value of the most important things in life is rarely measured in cash, and often compensation for losing them can't be measured in cash either.

  • Re:Precedent? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EdIII (1114411) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @12:29AM (#34108558)

    Well I hear in Zynga's lawsuit their proposed settlement includes the ChickenHawk (+150 ATK,+150 DEF) for Mafiawars, and 10 free chickens in Farmville.

  • by fishexe (168879) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @12:31AM (#34108564) Homepage
    As a frequent Buzz user who also cares deeply about online privacy, this settlement seems just about right to me. I would much rather my fellow users were educated about how to protect their privacy online than have a few extra pennies in my pocket (and that is about what this would amount to if paid out in cash to every class member). I actually wish more class action settlements would end like this. How many times have I been notified that I was part of a class winning a class action only to be informed my share was less than my time was worth to read the damn letter in the first place? (I'll tell you: three times). In any one of those cases I would much rather that my share had been aggregated together with every other class member's and put to a good cause.
  • by bonch (38532) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @12:37AM (#34108586)

    Could you take your lips off Google's ass for a second and acknowledge that it shouldn't be the burden of the user to navigate a company's privacy settings just to avoid having their email history revealed to the world? There's a reasonable expectation that a product or service you use won't exploit you or your personal information. Not accepting the money just makes you an embarrassing corporate tool who is saying, "Feel free to disregard my privacy, Google!"

  • by alnjmshntr (625401) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @03:08AM (#34108932)

    Let me put it this way. A businessman (Google) sells bicycles (You). The businessman builds a factory (Gmail) to make bicycles. The businessman sells bicycles to kids (advertisers).

    The bicycle is just the product, it doesn't pay anything.

  • by znerk (1162519) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @04:49AM (#34109202)

    So tell me, how many days of you get at google per year? :)

    Uhm... what?
    -1, Unintelligible.

  • Re:I for one (Score:5, Insightful)

    by N1AK (864906) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @06:43AM (#34109496) Homepage
    Crazy isn't it. I got this same email (as a UK resident it has no relevance to me) and find the whole concept so totally distasteful.

    Some lawyers received $2,125,000 for suing Google and getting their clients (all american gmail users) no compensation at all. How can people tolerate the idea that a lawyer is profiteering in their name (if you use Gmail and are American you were included in this settlement). Class action lawsuits like this seem to exist as a way for lawyers to extort companies, it certainly had nothing to do with compensating the people who allegedly had their privacy invaded. I doubt if you asked the people who this lawsuit was in the name of they would have thought settling for $0 compensation, $6.275mil privacy group funding and $2.125mil lawyer bonaza was acceptable. In Fact how on earth is it ok for the lawyers to settle without the agreement of the person the suit is in the name of!?
  • Re:I for one (Score:3, Insightful)

    by thomst (1640045) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @09:03AM (#34110088) Homepage

    I agree completely. I think, as a group, we should OBJECT to the terms of the settlement because as the aggrieved parties, we were never in anyway contacted by the attorneys in question, never gave implicit or explicit permission for them to represent us, and are currently sharing none of the windfall. Some lawyer among us should draft and official response that we can all cut and paste. Ten or twenty objections will be blown off. Ten or Twenty thousand will not.

    Sorry, but it doesn't work that way.

    You can object all you want, and it will have NO effect. A settlement has been reached and that's the end of that ...

    ... HOWEVER, the email we all received includes a link that permits each of us, as an individual, to OPT OUT of the settlement. By opting out, we, in effect, each, individually, make the statement that "these lawyers do NOT represent ME, and I accept no blame or responsibility for this shyster-enriching settlement, nor am I satisfied with its outcome." As an added bonus, opting out preserves your individual legal options for future action, which also sends a message to Google that the fat lady has yet to sing on this issue.

    Unfortunately, opting out won't reduce the ambulance chasers' take by a single dime, but as a vehicle to express your distaste at the terms of the settlement in a legally-meaningful way, it provides at least some moral satisfaction - and it puts Google on notice that taking the easy way out isn't necessarily going to benefit them, either.

    Just my $0.02, fwiw.

    Oh, and, for the record, IANAL.

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