Google+ is dead as of August, 2019:

(CNN) For Google, a data privacy reckoning may finally come as a result of a service that it admits almost no one uses much anymore.

Google said Monday, October 8 it is shutting down the long ailing social network Google+ for consumer use amid new scrutiny of the company for reportedly failing to publicly disclose a security bug affecting hundreds of thousands of accounts on the service.

In a blog post, the company admitted Google+ had failed to achieve “broad consumer or developer adoption” since it launched as a would-be Facebook rival in 2011. However, the announcement came moments after The Wall Street Journal reported Google had opted not to disclose a bug affecting Google+ users at least in part to avoid additional regulatory scrutiny.

Google said in the blog post that it “discovered and immediately patched” a bug in March 2018 that potentially allowed app developers to access profile data from users that had not been marked as public. The bug is said to have affected as many as 500,000 accounts, though the company says it found “no evidence” that any data was actually misused.

According to the Journal, Google’s legal and policy team warned senior executives at the company that disclosing the security flaw could lead to “immediate regulatory interest.”

My Take – We haven’t heard the last of this:

Since inception, Google+ never gained steam. Reportedly, there are an estimated paltry 100 – 110 million users. Compare this to behemoth Facebook at 2.3 billion users. If you ain’t got it after seven years of trying, surrender seems logical.

So says Google, you’ll have until August, 2019 to remove your data from Google+.

What’s more interesting, is that the United States doesn’t yet have a federal data breach law. Neither do many states. California recently passed a tough new privacy law with some similar requirements to Europe’s framework – GDPR which took effect May 25, 2018. Since Google’s “bug” occurred prior to California’s law and the effective date of the GDPR, it appears to me that Google’s legal team advised management to cut their losses now, reasoning they are “grandfathered”  against claims by closing out their floundering Google+ rather than challenge currently existing or retroactive and sure to come regulations both home and abroad.

GDPR Implications – Ouch!

The dos: From now on, companies everywhere (globally) must:

  • get EU citizens’ consent to collect their personal data and explain what it will be used for
  • let them see, correct, and delete it upon request
  • make it easy for users to shift their data to other firms

The don’ts: Companies must not ignore regulators’ requests to fix GDPR failings, nor take more than 72 hours to report a security breach involving personal data.

The punishment: The worst offenders can be fined up to 20 million euros ($23 million) or 4 percent of their revenue from the prior year, whichever is greater. There are smaller penalties for less serious transgressions.

Why this matters: Europe’s tough standards could influence how America and other countries shape their data protection regimes.

It’s highly doubtful Google ever made any money off Google+, and given it’s track record – particularly lack of growth, I see no light at the end of this funnel. Faced with potentially astronomical legal bills and global regulatory fines, were I Google, I’d hop out too.

But again, as said, we haven’t heard the last of this. Suffice to say all flavors of politicians, watchdog groups, states, countries, etc. are chomping at the bit to get involved. Stay tuned.

 

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