Feeds

US lawmakers urge trade commission to scrutinise Google Buzz

As much privacy as a goldfish in a bowl

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

US lawmakers are calling on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to probe privacy complaints about Google's Buzz, following a tirade of grumbles that greeted the creepy injection of the real-time Twitterbookish tech into Gmail in February this year.

On 25 March, 11 American lawmakers from the House of Energy and Commerce Committee penned a letter (link courtesy of Paid Content) to FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz, asking his office to investigate allegations that Google revealed personal details of its users without first securing their consent.

"Due to the high number of individuals whose online privacy is affected by tools like this - either directly or indirectly - we feel that these claims warrant the commission's review of Google's public disclosure of personal information of consumers through Google Buzz," reads the letter.

Last month the Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a similar complaint with the FTC.

According to the letter, the lawmakers welcomed Google's response to Gmail users, who complained bitterly about Mountain View's pathetic privacy oversight when it launched Buzz.

The company was forced to tweak the feature to appease Gmail users who did not like Google's stealth dump of Buzz within their online email system.

"Google has since made several changes to the service to fix this, and we commend these efforts," reads the letter.

"While we are glad to hear that Google is working on these problems, we remain concerned that personal information was publicly disclosed without notice or choice and as yet to be appropriately secured."

In the same missive, the lawmakers said they were worried about children being put at risk by the privacy flaws found in Buzz.

Earlier this month an outgoing commissioner with the FTC laid into Google for the privacy-envelope-pushing launch of Google Buzz, which she characterised as "irresponsible conduct".

In response to the latest complaint, Google reasserted to the Los Angeles Times that it did respect its Gmailers' privacy online.

"User transparency and control are very important to us, and we review all products carefully before we roll them out. When we realised that we'd unintentionally made many of our users unhappy, we moved quickly to make significant product improvements to address their concerns," it said. ®

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
'Windows 9' LEAK: Microsoft's playing catchup with Linux
Multiple desktops and live tiles in restored Start button star in new vids
iOS 8 release: WebGL now runs everywhere. Hurrah for 3D graphics!
HTML 5's pretty neat ... when your browser supports it
Mathematica hits the Web
Wolfram embraces the cloud, promies private cloud cut of its number-cruncher
Mozilla shutters Labs, tells nobody it's been dead for five months
Staffer's blog reveals all as projects languish on GitHub
'People have forgotten just how late the first iPhone arrived ...'
Plus: 'Google's IDEALISM is an injudicious justification for inappropriate biz practices'
SUSE Linux owner Attachmate gobbled by Micro Focus for $2.3bn
Merger will lead to mainframe and COBOL powerhouse
iOS 8 Healthkit gets a bug SO Apple KILLS it. That's real healthcare!
Not fit for purpose on day of launch, says Cupertino
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.