Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

New Gmail Feature Allows Anyone on Google+ to Email You

Sarah Perez, TechCrunch:

Google is today making a change to Gmail that will further bake in Google+ to its webmail product in a way that’s actually somewhat practical, though also potentially invasive. Going forward, you’ll now be able to directly email your Google+ contacts from Gmail, even if you don’t know their email address. And by default, anyone on Google+ will be able to email you as well, thanks to this new option, if you don’t adjust your Settings.

“Oh come on,” you begin, “wasn’t Google warned by the FTC over a very similar opt-out behaviour when they introduced Google Buzz?”

In its complaint, the FTC alleged that Google used “deceptive tactics and violated its own privacy promises to consumers” when it launched Buzz last year. Google initially made some Buzz users’ contacts, such as the address book, automatically visible to others, angering many users. Google later changed the settings so contacts were kept private by default.

The requirement under the settlement to seek user permission before changing how it shares data with outsiders, known as “opt in,” is unusually strict

I anticipate that this does not violate the FTC judgement because of Google’s unified privacy policy. Seems pretty dickish to me.

Update: This feature defaults to “extended circles“, which is only slightly better than “anyone”:

Your extended circles include people in your circles’ circles.

Which, depending on your friend group, could be pretty much anyone. Or, at least, far too many people who can potentially email you without knowing your address.