Following a very, very rocky start for Google’s latest social networking effort, Google Buzz, the Internet giant has settled a class action lawsuit related to the service. When Buzz launched earlier this year, Google found itself at the center of a media frenzy. The company decided it would forgo an opt-in process and share users’ locations with each Google account holder in their address books by default. The decision turned out to be a PR nightmare — and now it carries a financial burden with it as well. As a result of a class action settlement, Google has agreed to put in place an $8.5 million fund dedicated to “promoting privacy education on the web,” and it is now in the process of informing its users. Hit the break for the email Google is currently sending to all account holders.
Google rarely contacts Gmail users via email, but we are making an
exception to let you know that we’ve reached a settlement in a lawsuit
regarding Google Buzz (http://buzz.google.com), a service we launched
within Gmail in February of this year.
Shortly after its launch, we heard from a number of people who were
concerned about privacy. In addition, we were sued by a group of Buzz users
and recently reached a settlement in this case.
The settlement acknowledges that we quickly changed the service to address
users’ concerns. In addition, Google has committed $8.5 million to an
independent fund, most of which will support organizations promoting
privacy education and policy on the web. We will also do more to educate
people about privacy controls specific to Buzz. The more people know about
privacy online, the better their online experience will be.
Just to be clear, this is not a settlement in which people who use Gmail
can file to receive compensation. Everyone in the U.S. who uses Gmail is
included in the settlement, unless you personally decide to opt out before
December 6, 2010. The Court will consider final approval of the agreement
on January 31, 2011. This email is a summary of the settlement, and more
detailed information and instructions approved by the court, including
instructions about how to opt out, object, or comment, are available at