Internet Law

Peeved By Google Buzz Privacy Issue, Harvard 2L Files Suit

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Annoyed by an automatic e-mail contacts-sharing feature in the new Google Buzz social network unveiled for Gmail users last week, a second-year student at Harvard Law School expressed her frustration to a fellow student.

That classmate works as a research assistant to a professor who focuses on civil procedure and class-action law. Agreeing that the way Google Buzz was set up posed a privacy issue, he put 2L Eva Hibnick in touch with an attorney. Now the 24-year-old is at the helm of a major case against the Internet giant, according to ABC News and the Harvard Law Record.

Her federal suit seeks to represent millions of Gmail users potentially affected by the way Google Buzz has been implemented.

Although Google has already made changes in the way Google Buzz is set up and eliminated the replaced the automatic contacts-sharing feature with an opt-out concerning the user’s selection of followers, attorney Gary Mason of Washington, D.C., tells ABC the changes are insufficient and points out that the company can’t undo what already happened during the social network’s launch.

The company explains the changes in a post on its Official Gmail Blog. A “spokesperson” declined to discuss the lawsuit with the television network, however, saying that Google hasn’t yet been served.

Filed in federal court in San Jose, Calif., the suit asserts claims under federal law for alleged violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and the Stored Communications Act, in addition to California statutory and common-law claims.

Related coverage:

Findlaw: “The Stored Communication Act: New Considerations for Webmasters”

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