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Canadian Privacy Commissioner Probing Google Buzz
EPIC: Google "may have violated federal wiretap laws"

 3:08 am on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)


Valerie Lawton, a spokesperson for the office, said on Tuesday that Buzz is being investigated to see whether it violates Canadian privacy laws.

"We understand the public concern about privacy issues related to Google Buzz," she said. "Our office is looking at the issue."

Lawton added that the office may comment further on Wednesday.

Google has ignited a hailstorm of criticism with Buzz, which adds real-time communication and media-sharing features found on popular social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook to its Gmail service.


The Electronic Privacy Information Center has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, alleging that Google Inc.ís new social networking service Buzz violates federal consumer protection law.

It is urging the FTC to open an investigation into the service because it "violated user expectations, diminished user privacy, contradicted Google's privacy policy, and may have violated federal wiretap laws."



 4:19 am on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google dropped the Yahoo deal within seconds of catching wind that the feds would want to go through Googles books.

Sooner or later they are going to tick off someone big and the feds will get in and I think the worlds going to be very shocked at what they find ;)


 5:25 am on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google is officially MSFT, expect scrutiny on everything they do and buy


 5:48 am on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

I am with drall on this. Looks like the good-ole-days of "don't be evil" are counted. That PR motto does not wash with anyone these days. And if government officials begin probing, it's going to be messy.



 7:08 am on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

We've been observing this shift for several months... I have no doubt that more goverments will pile on, not just because of privacy, but for the copyright aspect of books, anti-competition, and "monopoly not redistributing wealth via taxes, etc."

Could be some "interesting times" coming soon to a government near you. :)


 10:43 am on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Problem is - Buzz is getting free promotion - who's to say certain things have not been left in to provoke reaction and therefore free advertising of their product. Call me cynical but it's like Ryanair in the UK - they mouth off at fat people needing two chairs, charging for toilets etc etc with very little real conviction to follow them through - but they get free advertising thanks to the media muppets who give them air time.

It actually needs a ground shift in the way the media promote alternatives to all G's products. News readers, panel show hosts, children's TV presenters and chat show hosts need to start using "I binged it" or "go yahoo it!" instead of the ubiquitous (and i think i am cool) "googled it".

Until that starts to happen, then there will not be a big shift away from the big G and all it's data revealing products...

As for privacy issues - get real - they are only topping up all the data joe public gives them through their Google Account or Gmail account anyways. People really need to be more careful.



 10:58 am on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

TinkyWinky, very well said. Ask me if I have any g accounts (except for the only one I have these days, and then ask if I allow g to track me [as in NEVER]). As the pot I have trouble calling the kettle black. But like one American President I can say I only toked, I never inhaled.

UPDATE EDIT: Do know I do NOT have a gmail account and would never have one... see all my other posts here at WW...


 11:10 am on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Buzz is getting free promotion

Yeah, but there are limits to what bad PR can do for you (in positive terms).

Many average people are absolutely not amused when they hear about privacy violations. And if their governments start to talk about it, too, they get even more uncomfortable. The tide is slowly turning against Google. Hence the incompetent launch of Buzz, which -through all the bad press- will accelerate their downfall.

Meanwhile, in the real world, The Register reports another privacy issue in Buzz:

Google Buzz bug exposes user geo location [theregister.co.uk]


 11:38 am on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Zett... good eye. I reported that elsewhere and as they say... if two saw it (and spoke to two others and they spoke to two others, etc.)

The geo location revelation is devastating if you think about it. Bobbie Sue ran away and Billy Joe found out where she was located (Steve Miller reference). This is really scary. But as that song remarks google will "take the money and run". If they can get away with it.


 11:53 am on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Maybe all these "extras" ..see who is talking to who, see where they both are , follow who you want whether they want you to or not ..were really supposed to be in the "special pack" reserved for the NSA and Plex insiders..and Eric "forgot" that some folks ( especially govt agencies ) do have things and capabilities that they would rather keep hidden .. :))


 12:18 pm on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Yeah, but there are limits to what bad PR can do for you (in positive terms)

Agree to some extent, something like this could be (and almost deinfitely will be) tomorrow's chip paper (UK saying... sorry).

Why? Because there's lots more far more newsworthy stories out there that will be tomorrow's headlines. They have not 'damaged' or 'hurt' joe public, not financially and not physically which is the key.

The issues we are talking about here are issues that the average punter (or dare I say it the lowest common denominator) either don't really understand or don't care about - it's why they have got quite so far as they already have with the extraordinary ease with which they have.

A very large proportion of the media have a lot to take the rap for IMO - the media have only just started to really get to grips with the full implications of what 'promoting' G is actually doing for the average citizen.

So G has had a lot of free airtime for a long time.


 1:48 pm on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Buzz is getting free promotion

This isn't free promotion.

These are government regulators probing and the media is reporting on it...not something anyone wants.

The media telling the world that Google's mismanaging personal data and violating people's rights can cause serious damage.


 2:28 pm on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

We've been observing this shift for several months... I have no doubt that more goverments will pile on, not just because of privacy, but for the copyright aspect of books, anti-competition, and "monopoly not redistributing wealth via taxes, etc."

It has been my opinion that most governments and legal experts don't understand google's business model. I say this because most non-webmaster - smart types do not have a clue on how I make my money with my website.

Generally, the copyright test is positive when one makes money from redistribution. It seems most folks do not understand what the ads are or that placing ads to the left and right of "free" copyright protected material is a method of redistribution and monetizing.


 2:50 pm on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Edge... dear heart... it is not YOUR income to be redistributed, as you do when you pay your personal/company taxes that is in question, it is Google's FAILURE via "location" in Ireland, UK, USA, DE, CN, etc that is in question. Very slippery. I don't see that changing anytime soon, though the French seem to have their sights focused...

Buzz screwed up big time. And I think it was planned. Best way to get "kiddies in the camp" by telling them there is ice cream. Backfired in that way more info was revealed than the wonks realized. Love those brainiacs types with pocket protectors. I had one of those too, but also played football, the American kind...


 3:59 pm on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

hmm Google said they will look into this so I think the Canadian are a little late here, another thing is, EVERY TIME google does something it must be checked people must know by now that they are not on the good side, but I also dont want to see companies/gov just pushing Google be cause other does it and then month/weeks after its official.


 4:06 pm on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

The Electronic Privacy Information Centre (Epic) Says, Google still hasn't gone far enough [news.bbc.co.uk]
A leading privacy group has urged US regulators to investigate Google's new social networking service Buzz, one week after its launch.

The Electronic Privacy Information Centre (Epic) has made its complaint to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

It says that Buzz - which is part of Google's Gmail service - is "deceptive" and breaks consumer protection law.

"Google still hasn't gone far enough," Epic's consumer privacy counsel Kim Nguyen told BBC News.

This is going to run and run.


 4:13 pm on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Yes. And this time I think creepy Google might have tested the waters too far. Too many eyes this time around.


 4:40 pm on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

It reminds me of something Guy Kawasaki says a lot. "Ship, then test".



 4:44 pm on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

this time I think creepy Google might have tested the waters too far

People start to wake up and realize that the COMBINED USE of products and services from Google are becoming a real privacy threat.

E.g., Nexus One is tied to your phone number which is tied to your Google Account. I understand that Nexus One offers GPS and free navigation. Will the GPS information or your phone number be revealed to others with the next "not so smart" launch of a new social networking product?

Google Chrome O/S will be linked to your Google Account. What will Google reveal to others from your personal computing activity with the next "not so smart" product launch?

The failed product launch of Buzz has made terribly clear that too much information in one hand is not a good thing. That was one of the reasons the Internet has been built in a de-centralized fashion. Google's efforts to centralize the Internet is more and more revealed as a risk for the society.

Once this notion has settled in people's heads, see Google tumble.


 5:31 pm on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

I recall seeing it predicted in a forum late last year that this would be a year of Gorg backlash... and I said earlier last year G would begin to lose relevance. Was I premature?


 5:55 pm on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

The holly Idea of:

"this is like twitter...and faceboook.... coool more places for status'!
since i dont use either of those other two! haha.."

is staring to be misunderstood by GORG(seems like on purpose) by thinking that the society it tries to "serve" in return for profits will simply continue two! haha...


 11:17 am on Feb 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

The problem is easily fixed, however, it's the culture that lead to the problem that needs to be addressed.

Buzz was tested extensively, just not as extensively as other products. I think it is possible to be 99.9% certain that the privacy issues were raised in feedback but were ignored. In other words, this was not a cock-up, it was an appalling lack of judgement.

The only way to avoid repeated "bad judgements" is to fire the culprits. If managers know that they risk being fired if they take bad decisions, they will be more careful. My guess is that, in this instance, someone very near the top needs to get the boot.



 4:06 am on Feb 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google's empire will only start to fall when people start asking questions about the finances. Right now Wall Street believes in Google. But the day day traders start asking questions about Google swallowing a company a week is when things start to unravel. It could be this year.

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