Feeds

Google Buzz leaves privacy concerns ringing in ears

Gmail sprouts Web 2.0 legs

Remote control for virtualized desktops

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. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
You stupid BRICK! PCs running Avast AV can't handle Windows fixes
Fix issued, fingers pointed, forums in flames
Microsoft: Your Linux Docker containers are now OURS to command
New tool lets admins wrangle Linux apps from Windows
Facebook, working on Facebook at Work, works on Facebook. At Work
You don't want your cat or drunk pics at the office
Soz, web devs: Google snatches its Wallet off the table
Killing off web service in 3 months... but app-happy bonkers are fine
First in line to order a Nexus 6? AT&T has a BRICK for you
Black Screen of Death plagues early Google-mobe batch
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Go beyond APM with real-time IT operations analytics
How IT operations teams can harness the wealth of wire data already flowing through their environment for real-time operational intelligence.
The total economic impact of Druva inSync
Examining the ROI enterprises may realize by implementing inSync, as they look to improve backup and recovery of endpoint data in a cost-effective manner.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.