The launch of Google Buzz has set various parts of the technology blogosphere afire — and for all the right reasons: it does introduce a number of interesting social features that could make our email experience much more social (whether it has to be more social is a different question).
However, what tech pundits have mostly overlooked is a peculiar privacy choice made by Google’s designers: unless you tinker with Buzz’s settings, a partial list of your most-emailed Gmail contacts might be automatically made public (see this post over at Silicon Alley Insider; it appears that contacts are made public to those who already had a Google Profile account before Buzz; also see this excellent and very angry post at CNet for additional background).
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Yes, that’s right: without you ever touching Google Buzz’s privacy settings, the entire world may know who you correspond with (yes, including that secret lover of yours and that secret leaker in the White House).
This could be an extremely uncomfortable and tragic privacy disaster for Google, potentially of the same magnitue that Beacon was to Facebook. I certinaly don’t have many concerns about those who are cheating on their spouses or are leaking sensitive information to journalists — they will survive (even though the future of whistle-blowing does not look very bright in our increasingly overexposed information environment).
Read More: By Evgeny Morozov, Foreign Policy