Google settles Buzz suit – commits $8.5M to privacy education and policy

Today sent out an email to all Gmail users that provides details on a settlement reached over privacy suits.

Googleplex, Mountain View - special privacy glass protects personal information from escaping the building.
Googleplex, Mountain View - special privacy glass protects personal information from escaping the building.
Googleplex, Mountain View - special privacy glass protects personal information from escaping the building.
Googleplex, Mountain View - special privacy glass prevents personal information from escaping the building.

Once again Moore’s law strikes. Google launched Buzz in February of this year. Today they sent out an email to all Gmail users that provides details on a settlement reached over privacy suits. So if my math is correct, that’s only about 9 months from the introduction of a product to law suits and litigation to settlement. Some how, some way the legal system can move fast when it needs (or wants) to.

The rare email (“Google rarely contacts Gmail users via email…”) provides a quick recap of Buzz-gate in which just about all your personal information retained by Buzz was available for others to view by default.

Queue Michael Jackson: Facebook, you are not alone.

But don’t expect compensation. Instead, according to Google, as part of the settlement the company has committed $8.5M to an “independent” fund which will support privacy education and the web. Perhaps, some should be allocated for the Google Buzz team to attend privacy training.

The settlement should be final in January 2011 if approved by the court.

Case closed… maybe.

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.

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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

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