Google Buzz Draws Class-Action Suit From Harvard Student

Lawsuit filed over new social networking service, raising privacy issue.

ByABC News
February 18, 2010, 12:16 PM

Feb. 18, 2010— -- Love it or loathe it, Google Buzz has dominated tech headlines since its launch last week.

The latest product unveiled by the Mountain View tech giant, Google Buzz, is a social networking service that plugs right into a Gmail user's e-mail account.

Like Facebook or Twitter, the new tool lets users post status updates, YouTube videos and photos, connecting users in an ongoing online conversation.

While some people have hailed Google Buzz as a potential "Facebook killer," others have lambasted the service for publicizing users' private information.

One law school student decided this week to take the Google Buzz backlash to a whole new level.

Law firms in San Francisco and Washington, D.C., Wednesday filed a class-action complaint in San Jose, Calif., federal court against Google Buzz on behalf of Eva Hibnick, a 24-year-old Harvard Law School student.

The complaint alleges that Google Buzz, which automatically opted-in all Gmail users upon its launch, unlawfully shared personal data without users' permission. The document cites the Federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the Federal Stored Communications Act and California common and statutory law.

"I feel like they did something wrong," said Hibnick, an active Gmail user and second-year law student. "They opted me into this social network and I didn't want it."

Hibnick said she typically uses Gmail about two to three times a day, and when she signed in to the service Feb. 9 (the day of Google Buzz's launch), she didn't realize at first that she had been automatically signed up for the new social network.

When she realized later, she said she was concerned that Google Buzz had publicly disclosed her personal relationships.