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Gmail user sues Google over Buzz violating data privacy

A Gmail user is suing Google for allegedly violating data privacy laws when it launched its Buzz social networking service in February.

Former US Navy IT manager Andranik Souvalian of Cranston, Rhode Island, claims that Google intentionally exceeded its authorisation to access and control confidential and private information.

Souvalian's complaint says that Google, through its Buzz social networking tool, has unlawfully disclosed its customers' private communications and records.

This includes, but is not limited to the automatic and unauthorised importing of its customers' private e-mail contacts into the Buzz social network, the complaint stated.

"Buzz has raised privacy concerns including, but not limited to automatic importing of private contacts and showing them to friends and importing without authorisation the customers' private photos onto the Buzz social network," the complaint continued.

A Google spokesperson said he could not comment because the company had not yet been served with the complaint, according to US reports.

Since the launch of Buzz, Google has made several changes in response to privacy concerns, including replacing automatic set up of followers with a manual process.

Google has also made the option to not display follower information on public profiles more visible and has enabled users to block followers who have not created a Google Profile.

But Electronic Privacy Information Center (Epic) said despite the changes Gmail users are automatically signed up unless they specifically opt out.

Epic, which filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission in February, has subsequently expanded its privacy concerns about Google Buzz.

The expanded complaint cites several examples of where there is a clear contradiction between the Gmail policy in place at the time Buzz was released and the use of Gmail account information by Google for the Buzz service.

Each example "constitutes an unfair and deceptive trade practice," the revised complaint said.


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