Following its launch, Google Buzz was excoriated by a number of privacy advocates and groups for its default settings that exposed a user’s most frequent email and chat contacts. Not surprisingly, Google then scrambled to address the default privacy settings issue. But as Philipp Lenssen writes on Google Blogoscoped, concerns remain.
What is particularly offensive to this privacy advocate is the fact that Google — after everything it has dealt with on privacy over the years — knowingly set the defaults in a way that would publicly expose what most people would consider private information. While Marc Rotenberg of EPIC describes this as a “blunder” on Google’s part, and Google defends its decision while making changes, Google’s default settings and the fact that it did not post a prominent warning on its site alerting users that if they use Buzz, their most frequent email contacts would be publicly on display immediately if their contacts also use Buzz, well, those actions make this privacy advocate question how much Google really is committed to user privacy. Given all the public outcry from a significant minority of users when Facebook set default settings to public, why did Google do this without prominent warnings?
Offering Buzz as a standalone, which Google is reportedly considering, might be a more attractive option for those concerned about their privacy than the integrated version. Google indicates it will retain the integrated version if it does offer Buzz without Gmail integration.