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Back in February 2010, Google launched a new social network tool called “Google Buzz.” Google Buzz allowed Gmail users to share status updates, images, and videos.  It also sent real-time updates of a Gmail account user’s Google Buzz feed that showed up on Google’s mobile maps on Android and iPhone mobile phones.

The problem was that Google Buzz violated Gmail users’ privacy by automatically enrolling Gmail users in Google Buzz and publicly exposing private user data.  Within weeks following Google’s launch of Google Buzz, a class-action lawsuit was filed claiming that Google Buzz violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1984 (CFAA) (In re Google Buzz User Privacy Litigation, Case No. 5:10-cv-00672-JW).  CFAA protects individuals from hackers, Trojan horses, and other software and devices that could compromise the confidentiality of data stored on a computer.  One of the problems with Google Buzz was that initially Gmail users had no way of opting out of disclosing their personal computer connections.  A common complaint of Gmail users was that  their email recipients were not necessarily the same people they may want in their social networks.

Yesterday (November 2, 2010), Google contacted millions of its Google Buzz users notifying them that it had settled the class-action lawsuit.

In accordance with the settlement, Google will establish an $8.5 million “Common Fund” to “fund organizations focused on Internet privacy policy or privacy education” (and pay the plaintiff’s lawyers’ fees and other expenses) and promised to “do more to educate users about the privacy aspects of Google Buzz.”  More information about the settlement can be found at http://www.buzzclassaction.com.

What is the impact of the settlement on Gmail Users?  Basically it has no monetary impact.  Gmail users will not receive any compensation from the settlement.

In accordance with the settlement found at www.buzzclassaction.com, Gmail users have 4 options:

  • Opt out of the settlement (your notice must be received by December 6, 2010).
  • Object to the Court about why you do not like the Settlement (objection must be received by January 10, 2011).
  • Go to a hearing and ask to speak in Court about the fairness of the Settlement (your written Notice of Intent to Appear must be received by January 10, 2011).
  • Do nothing and give up your rights to sue Google, thus accepting the terms of the settlement.
**This post is for informational purposes only, For legal advice contact an internet lawyer**