Remember the Google Buzz debacle? I've written about the privacy issues, and used as an example of why an online search engine perhaps shouldn't be in charge of storing our medical information? Well, a bunch of users did more than make snarky comments on their blog; they filed a class action lawsuit, and won. Here's part of the e-mail I received today:
...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...
Here's a copy of the official notice (.pdf download), so you can find out if you are involved in the lawsuit. According to the press release, here is a summary of your options, if you are a qualifying Buzz user:
EXCLUDE YOURSELF - This is the only option that allows you to bring your own lawsuit, or be part of any other lawsuit against Google about the legal claims resolved in this Settlement. You must mail your request for exclusion so that it is received no later than December 6, 2010.
OBJECT - Write to the Court about why you do not like the Settlement. Your objection must be received by January 10, 2011.
GO TO A HEARING - Ask to speak in Court about the fairness of the Settlement. Send your Notice of Intent to Appear so that it is received no later than January 10, 2011.
DO NOTHING - Give up your rights to sue Google about the legal claims in this case and thereby accept the terms of this Settlement.
For more information, visit BuzzClassAction.com
Jennifer Pointer (e-mail) is in Tulsa, OK. She promotes a simple, a low-tech approach to effective online profile management, search engine optimization and social networking.