Google sent out an e-mail this evening regarding the settlement of a class action lawsuit regarding the loose privacy from their Google Buzz product when it first launched. The e-mail seemed a bit suspicious and likely to be a phishing e-mail upon first impression but appears to be legit. The e-mail originates from firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is not a class action lawsuit that would provide compensation for Buzz users (which would be all Gmail users) but does give you options to take. Based on surveying a number of other Gmail users and my own Gmail accounts, the e-mail only seems to have gone out to those with the Buzz product turned on. For those of us who didn’t receive it because we turned Google Buzz off, here’s the e-mail:
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
The Google Buzz User Privacy Litigation site includes the Class Notice, FAQs, Court Documents, and Additional Information.
From the Google Buzz User Privacy Litigation site regarding the next steps:
What Are My Options?
- EXCLUDE YOURSELF – This is the only option that allows you to bring your own lawsuit, or be part of any other lawsuit against Google about the legal claims resolved in this Settlement. You must mail your request for exclusion so that it is received no later thanDecember 6, 2010.
- OBJECT – Write to the Court about why you do not like the Settlement. Your objection must be received by January 10, 2011.
- GO TO A HEARING – Ask to speak in Court about the fairness of the Settlement. Send your Notice of Intent to Appear so that it is received no later than January 10, 2011.
- DO NOTHING – Give up your rights to sue Google about the legal claims in this case and thereby accept the terms of this Settlement.
Please consult the Notice (PDF) for more details on your options.
Check out buzzclassaction.com to learn more details about the case and information about the next steps you might take regarding the case.