Feeds

Google Buzz leaves privacy concerns ringing in ears

Gmail sprouts Web 2.0 legs

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

Scarily for those Gmailers who wish to keep their email addresses and contact lists behind private doors and away from the prying eyes of search engines, Buzz does its best to reverse that by very publicly revealing those details as soon as a user accepts the invite to try out the new service.

Google also adopts the simples approach by pointing out “no setup [is] needed”.

So what happens if you hook up to Buzz’s beating black heart? For a start, it makes your profile public by default. That means anyone can have a gander at your profile, view your personal contact list and quickly follow whomever they please.

To switch those functions off, users are required to edit their profile and uncheck the “Display my full name so I can be found in search” and “Display the list of people I’m following and people following me” boxes.

Google’s failure to set those features as an opt-out by default is worrying to say the least, especially from a company that continues to insist it “does no evil”.

Essentially, Mountain View has grabbed elements of Twitter and Facebook in carving out its very own Web2.0rhea vision. Sadly, rather than learn from their mistakes, the company has potted Buzz with gaping privacy holes that do little to reassure Gmail users that their inbox won’t be sabotaged by spammers.

Worse still, Google isn’t even ashamed to admit that, y’know, using Buzz via Gmail exposes details you might have once wanted to keep private to you and your list of contacts.

“To make it easier for people to find your profile, you can customise your URL with your Google email username," it said. "(Note this can make your Google email address publicly viewable.)

“This unique name will also be used in other links to your content on Google. To help others discover your profile, in some Google services contacts who know your email address will see a link to your profile.”

Google confirmed at the launch of Buzz earlier this week that it would integrate the naked and free data with Wave, its effort at realtime communication. It's not clear exactly how Mountain View will stitch the two together, however.

Buzz is ultimately Google's latest attempt to shepherd more people into Gmail. What's more worrying long term is what such a move means for the company's online email service. By sprouting Web 2.0 legs Gmail might just have lost some serious credibility. ®

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Apple fanbois SCREAM as update BRICKS their Macbook Airs
Ragegasm spills over as firmware upgrade kills machines
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Captain Kirk sets phaser to SLAUGHTER after trying new Facebook app
William Shatner less-than-impressed by Zuck's celebrity-only app
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
EU dons gloves, pokes Google's deals with Android mobe makers
El Reg cops a squint at investigatory letters
Chrome browser has been DRAINING PC batteries for YEARS
Google is only now fixing ancient, energy-sapping bug
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.