New Zealand's Privacy Commissioner has joined an international chorus in calling on internet giant Google to review its policies on sharing users' private information.
said Google "too often" forgets people's privacy rights as it rolls out new technologies.
It comes after Google launched their social networking program Google Buzz - an add-on to their Gmail email service.
Google Buzz caused concern amongst privacy advocates because it automatically gave users a network of followers who they had been emailing regularly. But followers could also see who their friends had been emailing.
Vehement complaints were made in blogs,
, titled F*** You, Google.
The blogger is a woman with an abusive ex-husband. She was automatically signed up to Buzz and her ex-husband, who was still in her email address book, was able to view personal details about her.
"My privacy concerns are not trite. They are linked to my actual physical safety, and I will now have to spend the next few days maintaining that safety by continually knocking down followers as they pop up," she wrote.
New Zealand's Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff signed the letter to Google, which was penned by her counterpart in Canada.
Ms Shroff has been joined by privacy advocates in Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain and the United Kingdom representing over 375 million people.
"The launch of Google Buzz was commercial experimentation on New Zealanders and other internet users, involving the release of significant personal information. We think people deserve better," Ms Shroff said.
"Users were not adequately informed about how this new service would work or provided with sufficient information to allow informed consent. These actions violated the fundamental, globally accepted principle that people should be able to control the use of their personal information," Ms Shroff said.
She said Google did apologise and introduced changes, but Ms Shroff and others would like Google to make it clear how the global internet company will deal with privacy issues in the future.
"For instance, some of the defaults could be more privacy friendly. At the moment, you need to opt out if you don't want your followers to be included in your public Google profile.
"It would be better to have this as an opt-in - in other words, allow people to consciously choose what they make public. At the moment, it takes an extra step to protect your personal information," Ms Shroff said.
Google New Zealand spokeswoman Annie Baxter, said she would get back to nzherald.co.nz on what the company would do in the future. Another spokeswoman pointed nzherald.co.nz to its privacy principles