The irony that Google threatened to move out of China due to privacy infringment issues underscores a class-action suit filed by a 24-year old Harvard law student and a cadre of Gmail users who feel their privacy was violated with the recent launch of Google Buzz, the search engine's answer to social networking. Even though Google responded quickly to remedy the situation, some feel it was too little to late from a company that consistently makes up its own rules.
The issue unraveled at the gate when Google Buzz utilized Gmail accounts and profiles as the template for a network that shares contacts and content from Google Reader and Picasa. In response to complaints, Google changed the privacy settings to make it easier to opt out and for users to choose who follows them. (see previous blog, "Google Buzz Superstar!")
According to a TopTechNews report, coming off the heels of striking a deal with the City of Los Angeles to outsource e-mail for 30,000 LA municipal employees, Google stated that "the cloud" was safe and that users could trust their most critical data" with the search engine giant.
"The Buzz debacle, which has much greater visibility than the LA deal outside the (IT realm) has considerably diminished the credibility of their position," said Scott Menter of Shire Ventures, a California-based consulting firm. "While I don't see consumers fleeing Google or Gmail en masse as a result of this issue, it's likely to have a chilling effect on future corporate IT deals," and cloud computing in general.
But it's not just Google who should worry, Menter said. "That effect may spread to other cloud providers as we are reminded, once again, that one instance of poor judgment on the part of a vendor can compromise privacy and create an unacceptable level of risk," he added.
Google is yet to comment on the lawsuit, as of the time of this posting. Updates will be posted to this blog as subsequent reports are filed. As to the seriousness of this issue by Google themselves, it is interesting to note, that Google does not include this story under their "National Level Breaking News" section.