B12 Solipsism

Spreading confusion over the internet since 1994

Google Invades Privacy With Buzz

without comments

The Google Buzz seems a little half-baked, if you ask me. Perhaps there should have been a public beta first before Google just turned Buzz on for all of its customers.

Don't disappear in your own life

But what Google viewed as an obvious shortcut stirred up a beehive of angry critics. Many users bristled at what they considered an invasion of privacy, and they faulted the company for failing to ask permission before sharing a person’s Buzz contacts with a broad audience. For the last three days, Google has faced a firestorm of criticism on blogs and Web sites, and it has already been forced to alter some features of the service.

E-mail, it turns out, can hold many secrets, from the names of personal physicians and illicit lovers to the identities of whistle-blowers and antigovernment activists. And Google, so recently a hero to many people for threatening to leave China after hacking attempts against the Gmail accounts of human rights activists, now finds itself being pilloried as a clumsy violator of privacy.

As Evgeny Morozov wrote in a blog post for Foreign Policy, “If I were working for the Iranian or the Chinese government, I would immediately dispatch my Internet geek squads to check on Google Buzz accounts for political activists and see if they have any connections that were previously unknown to the government.”

[Click to continue reading Critics Say Google Invades Privacy With New Service – NYTimes.com]

And The Grey Lady is too delicate to link directly to Harriet Jacobs complaint:

In an expletive-laden article that was widely cited on the Web, a blogger who writes about issues related to violence against women complained that Google had made her fearful. She said that she had unexpectedly discovered a list of people, which may have included her abusive ex-husband or people who sent hostile comments to her blog, following her and her comments on Google Reader, a service for reading blogs and automated news feeds.

In a further effort to contain the fallout, Google reached out to her and made changes to enhance the privacy of shared comments on Google Reader.

But Gizmodo isn’t:

Oh, yes, I suppose I could opt out of Buzz – which I did when it was introduced, though that apparently has no effect on whether or not I am now using Buzz – but as soon as I did that, all sorts of new people were following me on my Reader! People I couldn’t block, because I am not on Buzz!

Fuck you, Google. My privacy concerns are not trite. They are linked to my actual physical safety, and I will now have to spend the next few days maintaining that safety by continually knocking down followers as they pop up. A few days is how long I expect it will take before you either knock this shit off, or I delete every Google account I have ever had and use Bing out of fucking spite.

Fuck you, Google. You have destroyed over ten years of my goodwill and adoration, just so you could try and out-MySpace MySpace.

Harriet Jacobs is the nom de plume of the author of Fugitivus. She’s a mid-twenties white girl living in the Midwest, working at a non-profit that assists families and deals with a lot of racial politics. Harriet has had a fucked-up life, and Fugitivus —fugitive—is her space to talk, where the fucked-up people who did the fucked-up things couldn’t find her and be creepy.

Ms. Jacobs has now hidden her blog from the public, at least for a while, and who could blame her?

No Admittance

For me, I’m less concerned with embarrassing details leaking to a salacious public as I’ve always tried to keep a so-called Chinese Wall separating public and private sphere. Of course occasionally I blab too much, but then I’m happy to remain low profile enough so it doesn’t really matter anyway.

As far as Google Buzz, not really sure what the point of it is, but hey, I’m no stock-holder in Google, so if they want to dip their corporate toes in social networking, that is their decision to make. I’m much more interested in having access to super-fast network provided by a less obnoxious telecom, as Google also mentioned this week.

Written by Seth Anderson

February 13th, 2010 at 2:21 pm

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