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Google Faces Class Action Over Buzz Privacy Violations

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Washington, DC: A class action lawsuit has been filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California (San Jose Division), Hibnick v. Google, Inc., Civil Action No. CV-100672-JW, on behalf of potentially several million Gmail users to whose accounts Google Buzz was recently added. The lawsuit seeks to enjoin Google from continuing to operate Buzz without appropriate internet privacy safeguards and it seeks damages, including statutory damages of $100 per day per user.

The lead plaintiff, Eva Hibnick, is a Harvard Law student whose contact information was allegedly made public by Google without her authorization. "In its apparent eagerness to attempt to compete with Facebook and Twitter, Google exposed its users' private information to others apparently without their knowledge or expressed permission," noted lead counsel Gary E. Mason of Mason LLP, an attorney for the plaintiff and the class members. "Gmail users simply had no expectation that their private email contact list would suddenly become available for others to view."

Plaintiff Hibnick said that she was "shocked to learn that my email contacts may have been shared with others without my knowledge or consent. I signed up for a private email service, not a social networking site."

The plaintiff and the class is also represented by trial attorney William M. Audet of Audet & Partners, LLP, a California-based law firm which serves as plaintiffs' counsel in a variety of complex class action and mass tort cases. William Rubenstein, a nationally recognized expert on class action law, is "of counsel" to the lawyers filing the suit.

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