Feeds

Google stung by more privacy complaints over Buzz

Data watchdogs wade into row

Security for virtualized datacentres

Canada's privacy chief is the latest high-profile politico to hit out at Google for its ill-considered stealth launch of Buzz in Gmail earlier this year.

The country's privacy commissioner Jennifer Stoddart penned a joint letter to Google's CEO Eric Schmidt in which data protection authorities from Canada, Israel, the UK, France, Spain, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Germany and the Netherlands lambasted the company for overlooking privacy values and legislation.

"We were disturbed by your recent rollout of the Google Buzz social networking application, which betrayed a disappointing disregard for fundamental privacy norms and laws," reads the letter.

It goes on to accuse Google of failing to "set a better example" and said that the privacy regulators from around the world who had signed the letter remained "extremely concerned about how a product with such significant privacy issues was launched in the first place."

The letter goes on to point out that slapping a "beta" tag on a product, which Google is famed for doing with much of its tech, did not mean the company could flagrantly brush aside "fair information principles".

"It is unacceptable to roll out a product that unilaterally renders personal information public, with the intention of repairing problems later as they arise. Privacy cannot be sidelined in the rush to introduce new technologies to online audiences around the world," it reads.

It asked Google to lead by example, in the somewhat optimistic hope that other online companies that overlook privacy rights in their products might follow suit.

The regulators want Mountain View to adopt a set of "privacy principles" that include collecting and processing only the minimum amount of personal information needed by a Google product or service, providing better disclosure to its users and creating privacy-protective default settings.

The missive is the latest in a string of privacy stings Google has suffered at the hands of lawmakers and commissioners since slotting Buzz into Gmail without any of its users' prior consent in February this year.

Last month US lawmakers called 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 the ad broker's free email service.

In February high-profile public advocacy group - the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a complaint with the US FTC against Google Buzz.

The Register asked Google to comment on the latest privacy bashing from data protection authorities.

"We try very hard to be upfront about the data we collect, and how we use it, as well as to build meaningful controls into our products. Google Dashboard, the Ads Preferences Manager and our data liberation initiative are all good examples of such initiatives," said a Google spokesman.

"Of course we do not get everything 100 per cent right - that is why we acted so quickly on Buzz following the user feedback we received.

"We have discussed all these issues publicly many times before and have nothing to add to today's letter - instead we are focused on launching our new transparency tool which we are very excited about." ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

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
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

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
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.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
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.