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The Buzz On Google: FTC Privacy Complaint Filed

There's a lot of buzz about Google Buzz.

A Washington DC area nonprofit group has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission against Google Buzz. In their complaint, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) invokes Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, claiming that the business practices of Google are Unfair and Deceptive, therefore subject to review by the FTC.

The 16-page complaint, dated February 16, effectively requests the FTC to investigate the business practices of Google with regards to their new social networking product, Google Buzz. The social networking feature was launched in February 9 as part of GMail. The feature was added to existing GMail accounts without giving notice to the users and without providing users with an opportunity to opt-in.

And that is exactly what the Google Buzz privacy complaint calls for -- that the FTC require GMail to provide users with an "opt-in" preference.

Of course, that is not the only allegation in their complaint. EPIC also claims that the change in Google's business practices was a violation of user privacy expectations, that it diminished user privacy and that it contradicted Google's own privacy policy.

But that's not all. The complaint even goes one step further, stating that Google may have violated Federal wiretap laws. Furthermore, Canadian Office of the Privacy Commissioner is also looking into the potential privacy breach, according to CBC.

The Buzz feature automatically searches the user's most frequently emailed contacts and adds them as "followers," potentially exposing the user's sensitive communications.

Google Buzz privacy concerns come on the heels of a lawsuit filed against Google Buzz's biggest competitor, Facebook. A class action lawsuit was filed against Facebook yesterday regarding unfair and deceptive business practices and breach of privacy issues.

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