John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

EPIC FAIL: Electronic Privacy Information Center Files FTC Complaint Over Google Buzz

While well-intentioned, Google’s “sorry, we didn’t get everything quite right” apology hasn’t absolved the company of the bungled launch of Buzz, its new social networking service and its foolish decision to transform our private Gmail address books into public social networks. On Tuesday afternoon, the Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission claiming Buzz violates federal consumer protection law.

“EPIC urges the Commission to investigate Google, determine the extent of the harm to consumer privacy and safety,” EPIC said in its complaint. “[And it asks that the Commission] require Google to provide Gmail users with opt-in consent to the Google Buzz service, require Google to give Gmail users meaningful control over personal information, require Google to provide notice to and request consent from Gmail users before making material changes to their privacy policy in the future, and seek appropriate injunctive and compensatory relief.”

Another embarrassing blow for Google (GOOG), which has spent the better part of a week being pilloried for its unfortunate misstep. Responding to EPIC’s complaint, Google again stressed its efforts to improve Buzz and, somewhat ironically, thanked the group for airing its concerns.

“We designed Buzz to make it easy for users to connect with other people and have conversations about the things that interest them,” the company said. “Buzz was launched only a week ago. We’ve already made a few changes based on user feedback, and we have more improvements in the works. We look forward to hearing more suggestions and will continue to improve the Buzz experience with user transparency and control top of mind. We also welcome dialogue with EPIC and appreciate hearing directly from them about their concerns. Our door is always open to organizations with suggestions about our products and services.”

Evidently, Buzz is a work in progress to which all are free to contribute–even if they do so in the form of an FTC complaint.