Google the Buzz Bomber

Here’s an update on “Is Gmail Spyware” http://www.eset.com/threat-center/blog/2010/02/12/is-gmail-spyware

First of all a link I gave to a blog no longer works. The Blogger has restricted access to her blog, understandably. You can read the original blog post at http://gizmodo.com/5470696/fck-you-google.

Google is supposed to be the “Do no evil” company. Actually those aren’t Google’s words, you can find the exact verbiage in item 6 at http://www.google.com/corporate/tenthings.html. It says “You can make money without doing evil. If this is actually the Google philosophy one must wonder if Eric Schmidt is actually qualified to lead a company with that philosophy and if he is then he will pull the plug on Buzz RIGHT NOW and not plug it back in until it is fixed.

The way Buzz added contacts was by monitoring your email and chat to determine who you contact the most. Such monitoring is perhaps a bit in a gray area, but then making that information public is clearly a privacy violation and Google is content to continue violating privacy while they fix their beast, instead of doing no more evil and turning the project off until they can respect their users.

Schmidt appears to be on the sidelines failing to make a hard decision that is clearly in line with his company’s alleged philosophy.

Google’s Mobile Buzz gets even worse. Take a look at http://www.pcpro.co.uk/blogs/2010/02/15/the-dangers-of-google-buzz-mobile/.

Yes, Google needs shut down Buzz and not bring it up until privacy and very clear user choice are implemented in a manner that is in keeping with a philosophy of not being evil.

I recommend that if you have a Google profile, public or private, you delete it. Google cannot be trusted with such information. I recommend that if you have a Gmail account, write down the information for all of your contacts and delete them. Google can’t be trusted with your contacts. This means you probably can’t use Google Chat, but there are other chat options that are much, much safer.

Google did issue a completely insincere apology in their blog at http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/2010/02/new-buzz-start-up-experience-based-on.html. They say “We're very sorry for the concern we've caused and have been working hard ever since to improve things based on your feedback.” A real apology would have included things like “violating privacy and trust”.

My friend Ira Victor, in a podcast on Valentine’s Day at http://www.thecyberjungle.com/ said “…If you value your privacy it might be worth a few bucks to go and get a paid service from one of the reputable companies…”

Well stated.

Randy Abrams
Director of Technical Education

Author , ESET

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