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Google Buzz leaves privacy concerns ringing in ears

Gmail sprouts Web 2.0 legs

The essential guide to IT transformation

Comment What’s that really annoying humming sound bothering your lugholes? Oh yes, Google Buzz. Bah.

And so it has come to pass - Mountain View’s sinister personal data grab has finally crept into the most sacred of all online communication tools. Gmail now has the ability to do social networking.

Google wants to out-Facebook Facebook, out-Twitter Twitter and out-Internet Explorer Internet Explorer and so and so and so, infinitum. But the ad broker’s relentless efforts to carpetbomb the entire interwebulator with its brand is becoming at best tiresome and at worst downright creepy.

The company isn’t content to sit back and watch the likes of Facebook and Twitter offer their own shoddy Web 2.0 privacy policies; now Google is in on that social networking game too.

The problem with Buzz is that Google didn’t offer its 176 million Gmail users an opportunity to opt in to the service that mines ever more information stored in the web kingpin's datacentres.

Instead, Mountain View simply slotted Buzz into all its Gmail accounts. That’s a somewhat unusual move for a company that prides itself on deeply testing a product in beta via Google Labs.

Recently the firm appears to have backed away from that model of delivery, wherein users were able to choose what “hot new product” of Google’s they might want to tinker with.

Google’s new stealth mode response is a dangerous strategy, as it assumes that its users will happily take on Web 2.0 clutter in their inboxes. In reality, the backlash has already begun, with many complaining that an online email service should remain separate from social networking.

Buzz also demands a public profile to be created before the account can be fully activated within Gmail.

Google delivers nasty privacy bee sting

“At a minimum, you only need to include your first and last name to use Buzz. It's up to you whether you'd like to include more details,” said Google.

“Note that if you decide to remove lists of the people you are following and the people following you from your profile, your name (and photo if you include it) may still appear on the profiles of the people you are following and who are following you.”

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