Last week, Canadian Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart, along with nine other privacy commissioners, released a public letter to Google CEO Eric Schmidt, expressing concern that the Internet giant was forgetting its privacy responsibilities arising, primarily, in relation to Google Buzz (i.e. it social media service). The other commissioners represent France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain and the United Kingdom.
The offending action focused on Google automatically assigning new users a network of “followers” from among people with whom they corresponded most often on Gmail. Google corrected the offending aspects of the Buzz service, but not before the resulting privacy concerns received considerable attention from concerned government agencies, as well as numerous users.
While the joint letter may or may not of had a causal connection to the change in Google policy, it is interesting to note how quickly, and apparently effectively, this multi-jurisdictional approach was, given that privacy laws vary from one jurisdiction to another, and are primarily domestically focused laws.