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Google Buzz-kill settlement

On Tuesday, Google sent out an email to all Google Buzz users, in a very uncommon practice for Google to partake in, talking about how they settled a class action law suit against privacy concerns with their service. Not only did the email tell U.S. customers that they had settled the lawsuit, but that they won't be receiving any money in the settlement.

The class action lawsuit talks about how Gmail users were automatically opted-in to Google Buzz when it launched, a feature that caused a number of private interactions and personal information to be exposed on the Internet. The initial launch of Google Buzz quickly raised doubts and a number of privacy concerns, leading to a class action lawsuit being filed with the company.

Google mentioned in an email today that they have since resolved the lawsuit with a $8.5 million settlement to an independent fund, where most of the money will go to support organizations promoting privacy and education on the web.

This is the email Google sent out to all Google Buzz users today:

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 (https://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 https://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.
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