Grasshopper Is Really A Noisy Cricket
This took a little bit of time for me to wrap my head around, but I think I finally got it. A long time ago (earlier this year) in a server far, far away (wherever the server is located), Darth Google flipped a switch and Google Buzz was brought into existence. Its stated purpose–because you have to have one of those–was to introduce a social feature to Google products. Not that everybody wanted it, but it was going to be built directly into Gmail.
The problem unfolded when Buzz automatically pulled every Gmail user into this new social network whether they wanted to be in it or not. This then led to a compromise of user privacy by exposing their contacts without consent and making any updates visible to folks who they e-mailed frequently regardless of whether it was a boss, someone they strongly disliked, were carrying on in secrecy with, family member, BFF or pretend loved one. You get the idea.
I Can’t Get No Dissatisfaction
Now, as any reasonable person outside a corporate setting might expect, folks weren’t happy about this and voiced that unhappiness. And, as any reasonable person inside a corporate setting might expect, someone surely said “But…we’re Google. We’re God. Why are the little people complaining? Even Oprah won’t mess with us!” And a class action lawsuit was born.
The beauty of it is that Google will be putting $8.5 million dollars into an independent fund used to support Internet privacy education, something it seems to be a tad lax in understanding itself. The irony of it is that because both sides settled, Google is allowed to deny all legal claims against it or that any law was broken. Can we all just say it together? “Typical.” There. We said it. Yes, putting that much money into a fund doesn’t look remotely suspicious of what they thought their chances of winning were. I suspect the way they got around it was using the old “We’ll take this to court and appeal it as many times as possible so that your legal costs become astronomical” routine.
I mean, seriously, what’s next? Maybe they"ll start selling a Google doll in the form of Search Engine Master that says "May the Privacy never be with you!"? And people will probably pay good money for it, too.
All Odd Things Must Come To An Indecision
The settlement isn’t the last we’ll be hearing about this issue either. There’s a “fairness hearing”–more irony–that will be taking place at the end of January next year where interested parties can debate the proposed settlement before a judge rules on it. Or, members can opt out of it by December 6th and decide to sue Google independently.
It makes you wonder if things would have turned out any different had folks on the Death Star used Google as their search engine.