letter to Google by 10 privacy commissioners
The Canadian Privacy commissioner, and 9 of her colleagues from various countries, sent a joint letter to Google yesterday expressing concern about Google's rollout of Google Buzz. The letter says in part:
However, we are increasingly concerned that, too often, the privacy rights of the world’s citizens are being forgotten as Google rolls out new technological applications. We were disturbed by your recent rollout of the Google Buzz social networking application, which betrayed a disappointing disregard for fundamental privacy norms and laws. Moreover, this was not the first time you have failed to take adequate account of privacy considerations when launching new services.
Users instantly recognized the threat to their privacy and the security of their personal information, and were understandably outraged. To your credit, Google apologized and moved quickly to stem the damage.
While your company addressed the most privacy-intrusive aspects of Google Buzz in the wake of this public protest and most recently (April 5, 2010) you asked all users to reconfirm their privacy settings, we remain extremely concerned about how a product with such significant privacy issues was launched in the first place. We would have expected a company of your stature to set a better example. Launching a product in “beta” form is not a substitute for ensuring that new services comply with fair information principles before they are introduced.