Got an unexpected email from Google yesterday, regarding the settlement for the Google Buzz privacy lawsuit. The email was sent to all Google Buzz users, so if you’re a Google Buzz user you should’ve gotten one on your email inbox too.
The purpose of the email is to notify users that Google has finally settled the lawsuit and have agreed to set aside $8.5 million not to pay Google Buzz users but for an independent fund that will be used to support organizations that promote privacy education and policy on the Internet. It also states that Google will do other steps to educate people about privacy controls specific to Google Buzz.
Here’s the full email sent by Google:
Google rarely contacts Gmail users via email, but we are making an exception to let you know that we’ve reached a settlement in a lawsuit regarding Google Buzz (http://buzz.google.com), a service we launched within Gmail in February of this year.
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. This email is a summary of the settlement, and more detailed information and instructions approved by the court, including instructions about how to opt out, object, or comment, are available at http://www.BuzzClassAction.com.
This mandatory announcement was sent to all Gmail users in the United States as part of a legal settlement and was authorized by the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
Google Inc. | 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway | Mountain View, CA 94043
For those who aren’t familiar about this case – Google was sued by a few Google Buzz users just a few months after it was launched for “breach of privacy“. All Gmail users were automatically signed up for Google Buzz without their knowledge and were automatically connected to other users through the “auto-follow” feature. Which meant that by default, the people you follow and those who follow you on Google Buzz are made public to anyone who views your profile.
Check out this post on Minyanville.com about the story behind the story – how the Google Buzz lawsuit came about.