Privacy watchdog files complaint with FTC over Google Buzz


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The Electronic Privacy Information Center has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, alleging that Google Inc.’s new social networking service Buzz violates federal consumer protection law.

It is urging the FTC to open an investigation into the service because it ‘violated user expectations, diminished user privacy, contradicted Google’s privacy policy, and may have violated federal wiretap laws.’


Google Buzz launched in millions of Gmail inboxes last week. The new service prompted an uproar as some people got nervous that their private e-mail and contacts would be exposed.

EPIC estimated that 37 million Gmail users fall under the FTC’s jurisdiction. EPIC wants the FTC to require that Google give consumers the right to opt into the service instead of having to opt out of it. The privacy watchdog also wants Google to give consumers greater control over Buzz settings.

Google has made two rounds of changes to Buzz in response to user criticism. More tweaks are in the works.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

[Updated at 2:24 p.m.: Google responded to a request for comment through a spokesman, who said: “We designed Buzz to make it easy for users to connect with other people and have conversations about the things that interest them. 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.”]

-- Jessica Guynn