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10 nations tell Google of privacy concern on Buzz 10 nations tell Google of privacy concern on Buzz

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New York: Officials from Germany, Canada, France and seven other countries are raising privacy concerns to Google over the online search leader's fumbled foray into social networking.

Google launched Google Buzz as part of its Gmail service in February. It quickly came under fire for automatically creating public circles of friends for users, based on their most frequent Gmail contacts.

After complaints, the company apologised and made changes to the service.

But in the letter sent on Monday to Google CEO Eric Schmidt, the officials said they are still "extremely concerned about how a product with such significant privacy issues was launched in the first place."

Google Street View is another area of concern, with officials saying the company launched the mapping service _ which includes street-level photos taken by cameras mounted on cars sweeping through neighbourhoods _ without "due consideration of privacy and data protection laws and cultural norms."

"In that instance, you addressed privacy concerns related to such matters as the retention of unblurred facial images only after the fact, and there is continued concern about the adequacy of the information you provide before the images are captured," says the letter, which is posted on the Web site of Canada's privacy commissioner.

The Google representatives could not immediately be reached early on Tuesday morning. The other countries that signed the letter are Ireland, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain and the United Kingdom.

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