Google was no doubt hoping it had heard the last of the privacy issues surrounding Buzz, the social networking functionality it introduced to Gmail in February. But thanks to an international group of regulators, that's not quite the case.
When Google rolled out its social networking service, privacy controls were not, shall we say, a priority. In its rush to get into the game dominated by Facebook and Twitter, the search giant freaked out a large number of users by making their list of contacts public and failing to allow them to block people from following them.
Google announced its Buzz social networking search feature on Tuesday, and quickly followed up with a fix designed to quell privacy concerns on Friday. However, not everyone is appeased.
Buzz is a feature that Google added to Gmail -- and eventually plans to include in Google Apps and potentially other products -- that adds real-time communications and media sharing, a la Facebook and Twitter, to the e-mail program.
Google announced earlier this week it's dropping the price of extra storage for users of its Picasa photo editing service and Gmail. These services are free, but Google for the past two years has charged users who want additional storage to hold their photos and messages; as of this week the company will offer twice as much storage for a quarter of the old price, putting 20GB of space at $5 a year. That's enough to store 10,000 full-resolution photos, Google says.
In addition to the fact that it costs next to nothing, the advantages of storing personal data in the cloud are that users can access it from any computer or device and easily share it with friends or family, says Google. This is great. But consumers should be just as cautious about what they put in the cloud as corporations because regardless of what kind of data is being stored there, the risks are the same.
Cloud computing has sparked more lively debates than perhaps any other tech trend in recent memory. Not only are discussions about security and availability in the cloud not always polite, but people can't even see eye to eye on how to define the concept.
So when most Gmail users couldn't access their e-mail for almost two hours yesterday, the reactions were pretty predictable. The outage wasn't just inconvenient, according to a PC World blogger. No, it apparently called into question the very feasibility of the present-day cloud.