Privacy group wants Google cash

Google Buzz screenshot showing logo
Image caption Google users who signed-up to Buzz found some of their contact details made public by default

A leading US privacy group has filed an objection to agreements Google has reached over its social network Buzz.

The Buzz experiment was heavily criticised because it automatically enrolled all Gmail users without seeking prior permission.

Legal action was taken by a group of Gmail users, with Google agreeing to set up a $8.5m (£5.2m) privacy fund.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) is unhappy that it is not one of the beneficiaries of the fund.

This is despite the fact that it filed the original complaint about the service with the Federal Trade Commission.

It has asked for $1.75m (£1.09m), claiming that it is a more independent group than some of those being given money.

It said that the majority of funds would be allocated to groups that "receive support from Google for lobbying, consulting or similar services".

It asked the court to reject a deal "that encourages organisations to stand by quietly while others do the actual work of safeguarding internet privacy".

It declined to say which groups provided lobbying services.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Brookings Institution are among those hoping to receive funds.

Moving on

Earlier this week, Google reached an agreement with the US Federal Trade Commission, following the conclusion of its investigation.

The FTC said that Google wrongly used information from Google Mail users to create Buzz.

Google has agreed to undergo a privacy review once every two years for the next 20 years.

In a statement after the FTC settlement, Google said it had "put this incident behind us".

"We are 100% focused on ensuring that our new privacy procedures effectively protect the interests of all our users," it said.

It declined to comment directly on the EPIC case.


Buzz was launched as an application within Gmail in February 2010.

Like rival Facebook, it allowed users to post status updates, share content and read and comment on friends' posts.

But it also gave users a ready-made circle of friends based on the people they most frequently e-mailed.

This list could automatically be made public, which privacy experts said could be a huge problem for journalists, businesses or people having an illicit affair.

Following anger from users, Google made changes and apologised for insufficient testing of the service.

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