Feeds

Google stung by more privacy complaints over Buzz

Data watchdogs wade into row

High performance access to file storage

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." ®

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Inside the Hekaton: SQL Server 2014's database engine deconstructed
Nadella's database sqares the circle of cheap memory vs speed
Oh no, Joe: WinPhone users already griping over 8.1 mega-update
Hang on. Which bit of Developer Preview don't you understand?
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
IRS boss on XP migration: 'Classic fix the airplane while you're flying it attempt'
Plus: Condoleezza Rice at Dropbox 'maybe she can find ... weapons of mass destruction'
Ditch the sync, paddle in the Streem: Upstart offers syncless sharing
Upload, delete and carry on sharing afterwards?
New Facebook phone app allows you to stalk your mates
Nearby Friends feature goes live in a few weeks
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.