By Joey Seiler
Google Buzz Gets Privacy Groups Talking—and Filing Complaints
When Google launched Buzz, its new social media function, on February 9, the Internet giant moved into Facebook territory by sharing information and connecting social groups. According to the Electronic Privacy Information Center’s complaint to the FTC, Google may have also moved into Facebook territory by violating users’ privacy. (PaidContent covered EPIC’s FTC complaint against Facebook when the company changed its privacy settings in December 2009.) The New York Times provides an overview of the many problems that arose when Buzz made it possible to see a user’s most emailed contacts, including privacy issues for minors and displaying confidential contacts of lawyers and journalists. Ars Technica reports on Google’s efforts to bring Buzz back in line with users’ privacy expectations.
Schools Spy on Kids with Laptops, then Stop in Response to Suit
Harriton High School in Lower Merion Township, PA, has been using the webcams in school-issued laptops to surreptitiously monitor students at home, alleges a complaint filed against Lower Merion School District on February 11. BoingBoing reports that the issue came to light when a student was allegedly disciplined for “improper behavior in his home.” According to Ars Technica, the school says that the technology was only used for the purpose of stopping theft. The school has since disabled the remote access feature entirely.
In Tenenbaum, Defendant Files Reply Brief to Reduce Jury Verdict; Plaintiff Drops Sanctions Against Nesson
Last July, a Boston Federal jury handed down an award of $675,000 against Joel Tenenbaum for infringing copyright in 30 songs by sharing them over Kazaa. Copyrights and Campaigns reports that Tenenbaum filed a reply brief to support his motion to reduce the verdict on February 18. Tenenbaum argues the actual damages are at most $21, based on the 70 cents labels would have received from Apple for an iTunes sale for each of the 30 songs. However, this method of calculation was explicitly rejected in the remittitur in the similar case against Jamie Thomas-Rasset, previously covered by JOLT.
Tenenbaum’s attorney, Harvard Law School Professor Charles Nesson, has made a practice of posting recorded depositions and telephone conversations regarding the case to his blog. JOLT previously covered the RIAA’s reactions as it asked the court to have Nesson pull the recordings. A hearing on the motion was scheduled for February 23, but Copyrights and Campaigns reports that the RIAA has withdrawn its motion for sanctions.