February 19, 2010
Facebook and Google Buzz Hit With Class Action Lawsuits Over Privacy Issues
Facebook's New Default Privacy Settings. A class action lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleges that site's new default privacy settings are "materially deceptive, confusing and ineffective" at guarding personal information by exposing users' Facebook friends, pictures, organizations they support and products they use to snooping by virtually anyone, "including hackers, scammers, criminals, sociopaths and the like." "[T]he default privacy settings are all set at the minimum level of protection," exposing Facebook users to "identity theft, harassment, embarrassment, intrusion and all types of cybercrime." Details here and here.
Google Buzz. A class action complaint filed in San Jose federal court alleges that Google violated various various electronic communications laws, including the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, because its Google Buzz service shares personal data without the consent of users. The Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission earlier this week, arguing users should have to opt in into the service, not opt out. Details here. See also Michel-Adrien Sheppard's post, Canada's Privacy Commissioner Questions Google Buzz,
What Was Google Thinking? Merging public broadcasting via Buzz with private email (Gmail) to compete with Twitter and Facebook without being opt-in is not one of Google's better ideas. See, e.g., Google Buzz Privacy Issues Have Real Life Implications. and Latest Privacy Nightmare: Google Buzz in the Workplace ("The auto-follow feature works for many people and is probably pretty innocuous in a vacuum. However, what if a user emails an ex-boyfriend or ex-husband a lot? That person most likely does not want that person “following” them. ... [W]hat does Google Buzz mean for the workplace? The opportunities for further privacy concerns multiply.")
Do note The Official Google Blog's Feb 13th post, A new Buzz start-up experience based on your feedback ("We've heard your feedback loud and clear, and since we launched Google Buzz four days ago, we've been working around the clock to address the concerns you've raised.") The post provides much needed instructions on how to hide Buzz from Gmail or disable it completely. [JH]
This would warn users to be very cautious on what they share on line be it at an information or picture.
Posted by: Legal Aid | Mar 3, 2010 10:22:17 PM