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Buzzed a Little Too Close

We all knew that when Buzz was released there were immediate privacy concerns since you could see Goog users all over the place without their explicit permission. But it turns out the issue is worse than just that. The NY Times has an article in today’s paper discussing the thorny issues. See, Google took your email contacts and turned them into friends for others to see.

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.”

They continue:

Google is known for releasing new products before they are fully ready and then improving them over time. But its decision to do so with Buzz, coupled with its introduction to all 176 million Gmail users by default, appears to have backfired.

What do you guys think? Are you using Buzz and how big of a misstep was this for your privacy rights?