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Google Businesses The Internet Privacy Your Rights Online

Gmail Reveals the Names of All Users 438

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-so-anonymous-now dept.
ihatespam writes "Have you ever wanted to know the name of admin@gmail.com? Now you can. Through a bug in Google calendars the names of all registered Gmail accounts are now readily available. All you need to find out the names of any gmail address is a Google calendar account yourself. Depending on your view this ranges from a harmless "feature" to a rather serious privacy violation. According to some reports, spammers are already exploiting this "feature"/bug to send personalized spam messages."
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Gmail Reveals the Names of All Users

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  • Ouf (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Shados (741919)

    The person(s) responsible for this bug is going to have a nice and very uncomfy meeting with their supervisor very soon...

    • Re:Ouf (Score:5, Funny)

      by game kid (805301) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @07:24PM (#24221353) Homepage

      ...after which exercise balls (in lieu of the usual chair) will be thrown in a fit of unbridled anger (several tech websites will report a mysterious colorful stream of balls spilling out the Google offices).

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Thanshin (1188877)

      The person(s) responsible for this bug is going to have a nice and very uncomfy meeting with their supervisor very soon...

      But who was responsible? Let the Ginquisition begin!

      Google has persistently pursued innovation and pushed the limits of existing technology to provide a fast, accurate and easy-to-use torture room that can be accessed from anywhere.

  • by i'm lost (1247580) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @07:08PM (#24221195)

    If I was worried about privacy with my gmail account, google wouldn't have my actual name to have the ability to give it out.

    • by Motherfucking Shit (636021) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @10:11PM (#24222851) Journal

      If I was worried about privacy with my gmail account, google wouldn't have my actual name to have the ability to give it out.

      That's all well and good until you decide to start using actual Google services (Checkout, AdSense, AdWords, and the like). It's possible to do these things with a non-GMail email address, but you have to create a Google account anyway, so I'd venture to say most folks use their GMail address if they already have one.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by h4rm0ny (722443)

        Not to mention that my employers have started (without any process of considering implications whatsoever) started to use Google services for all their meeting arrangements, annual leave sheets, some internal email communications. I imagine some other places are doing the same. I wonder if it will get to the point where having your Google account suspended will be cause for a dismissal. At any rate, not everyone has the option of not using Google. I imagine the number of such people will increase.
  • D'Oh (Score:5, Funny)

    by Atari400 (1174925) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @07:11PM (#24221223)
    chunkylover53 is going to be most displeased.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @07:12PM (#24221245)

    Really, now everyone will know my name is John Smith? I am outraged and will see my lawyer immediately!

    -- john.smith@gmail.com

  • Is This Evil? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by abirdman (557790) <{abirdman} {at} {maine.rr.com}> on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @07:13PM (#24221259) Homepage Journal
    But, does this constitute evil? So far so good. My gmail account is my real name anyway. I'll be looking out for the evil...
    • Re:Is This Evil? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Admodieus (918728) <john AT misczak DOT net> on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @07:23PM (#24221341)
      If this story was about a similar bug with Hotmail and Windows Live Calendar, yes it would.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gujo-odori (473191)

      No, but it constitutes a serious bug. Evil usually requires intent. Stupidity, on the other hand, can be completely unintentional.

    • Re:Is This Evil? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by TheNetAvenger (624455) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @09:23PM (#24222445)

      But, does this constitute evil? So far so good. My gmail account is my real name anyway. I'll be looking out for the evil...

      So if it doesn't affect you, then it is ok?

      I think you have defined for us what evil is and you are a shining example of it yourself...

  • Head in the clouds (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gamanimatron (1327245) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @07:16PM (#24221283) Journal
    This is exactly why I remain leery of applications in the cloud. I've got a google account for work, and that's the only use it ever sees. And it's under real.name.company anyway, and has no other useful information associated with it.

    I try really, really hard not to leave to broad a trail online. Those databases just never die (except when they do, of course - but the timing is subject to Murphy's Law, so it's never in my favor).

    I'm gonna go hide in my cave now.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by EdIII (1114411) *

      This is exactly why I remain leery of applications in the cloud

      I take that one tinfoiled hat step further. I remain absolutely untrusting (or trusting that the gravest possible negative outcome occurs 100% of the time) of every single company and government that I deal with.

      A company or governments interests with your information are never the same as your own. The way in which other entities will use this data to further their own goals is not always in your best interests. It does not have to

  • by Pollardito (781263) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @07:23PM (#24221349)
    Does this mean they're only sending spam to people who really need Cialis?
  • by aztektum (170569) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @07:29PM (#24221407)

    This is horrible. This is an outrage! I'm writing Google a letter telling them how awful this is an how they need to work on the Q/A. I mean my GMail address *IS* my full name, but I'm not going to let that fact stop me from acting like an emotionally charged idiot!

    • Grow up, lemming (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Moraelin (679338)

      Well, grow up. Even if this particular one doesn't affect you, it does show the kind of privacy problems that google has _again_. And it seems to be perfect illustration of what a few Google deffecters were ranting about recently.

      Depending on what of their services you use, Google usually has a lot more data about you than your name. E.g., your searches, the news/mailing-lists you're subscribed to, your credit card number if you use their payment processor, possibly your medical history, etc. Heck, it even

  • by elnico (1290430) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @07:44PM (#24221551)

    It's a good thing they caught this in beta, before it affects a large number of people!

  • by Peet42 (904274) <Peet42@NetscapFO ... t minus language> on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @07:47PM (#24221577)

    ...is that this will allow Phishing scams aimed at GMail users to *seem* so much more plausible.

    What? You expected humour?

  • by Lord Byron II (671689) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @07:50PM (#24221597)

    The Families Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 allows a student at a university to require the university to not release their name to anyone. For example, if you check for my name at my school's phonebook, you'll find I'm not listed. If you call my registrar's office and ask for information on me, they'll tell you that they don't have a student by my name. You see, it's against the law for them to even confirm that I'm a student.

    Since many schools have outsourced their email systems to Gmail, anyone can generate a full roster of student names through this trick. This could obviously result in many violations of FERPA.

  • by LM741N (258038) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @07:50PM (#24221599)

    So how do I go about testing this on myself? (as 100 posts reply with my real name.... Scrooge McDuck)

  • Privacy... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by db32 (862117) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @07:51PM (#24221611) Journal

    Ok...so I only see this as an issue for people trying to hide their identity for something nefarious. I mean christ, I give out my full name a dozen times a day to people I don't know. "Hello, we have a circuit down and need to open a ticket." "Hello, I have a few questions about your product." and damned near every other statement you might make when calling another company is almost IMMEDIATELY followed by "Can I have your name please?" Of course this is after they answer the phone "Hello, my name is..."? Now granted they don't always use their last name if they are just phone jockeys, but almost anyone worth anything in terms of sales/technical/etc reps will give you their full name, email address, phone number, etc.

    In other news, purchasing cigarettes and alcohol require you to disclose your first and last name when you show your ID! Even worse, there are rumors that every time you make a purchase using anything other than cash you have to disclose your first and last name. This isn't a privacy issue, maybe a privacy irritation, but certainly not anything to get in a ruffle about. It isn't like names are even really unique identifiers. Now if it revealed birthdays or SSNs or credit card numbers or something then I would understand.

    Course, maybe there is something here I am ignoring. Do the people getting in a ruffle about this freak out when someone of the opposite sex asks their name? "Oh my god they are trying to invade my privacy!" Generally it is considered "normal" to give them your name so they have something to call you other than "freak" or "uberhax4234".

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 22_9_3_11_25 (645799)
      Many people set up an email account to use with an online dating site. 12% of recently married or engaged couples met online. People use a nickname or screen name with an email account to hide their identity and weed out potential dates and then only give their real name out if they were actually going to meet someone in person for a date. That is not a nefarious purpose but it is a big privacy concern, especially if you are female. I am surprised with all the comments no one has mentioned online stalkin
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Tim C (15259)

      In other news, purchasing cigarettes and alcohol require you to disclose your first and last name when you show your ID! Even worse, there are rumors that every time you make a purchase using anything other than cash you have to disclose your first and last name.

      Perhaps in the US, but here in the UK you don't have to show ID to buy alcohol or tobacco unless you look like you might be under age. Even that's a relatively recent thing - 16 years ago I had no problem buying alcohol at 16 and 17 (age limit is 18

  • Real info? (Score:5, Funny)

    by pyrote (151588) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @08:15PM (#24221871) Journal

    Really, I wonder how many times people have used bugs like this to steal an identity, only to find that it's all fake info anyhow.

    Personally, every few years, I Re-invent someone... Use a fake(completely fake, not false) identity for everything from Cellphones to gmail.

    I google my real name, nothing, google my 'fake' like 20 pages. My 'fake' identity is WAY more famous than I am... I'm kinda jealous.

  • by shanen (462549) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @08:32PM (#24221987) Homepage Journal

    Frankly, Google seems to be gathering excessive power and not doing so well on the responsibility part. In general, they have become far too helpful to spammers, so I suggested a way that Google could be much less helpful to the spammers [google.com]--but there is no evidence they are interested in it. Does their understanding of evil somehow exempt the spammers?

    On the general privacy thing, Too many companies are collecting too much of our personal data--and then treating it like their corporate property. I deeply resent it, but at least it isn't anything special about Google. Or maybe it is, insofar as Google is especially skilled at using information, and therefore poses the greater threat for potential abuse... What I want it a privacy option to store my personal information on *MY* computer, and they can ask when they want to look at it--and they had better ask nicely, too. (Actually, I want an automated system of user-controlled privacy preferences to handle most of this...)

  • by pugugly (152978) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @09:42PM (#24222631)

    I was like, really concerned for a minute. I thought spammers had managed to access something *important* or something.

    So, this is about someone that already knows my email address accessing the "name" that I show on every email I send out?

    To quote "The Whole Nine Yards" -
    *Oh* *My* *Gawd*!

    Pug

  • by rivaldufus (634820) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @09:57PM (#24222757)

    is just my Social Security number.

  • by Vampyre_Dark (630787) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @10:55PM (#24223191)

    I've used about every service that they have had, and this is pretty much how everything they do works. You don't opt in for anything, you have to figure out how to eventually opt out.

    You fumble through the options screen and finally find the right combination of checkboxes that doesn't throw your name out there, and let everyone see everything by default.

    "Hey guess what users, we added this nice option that lets everyone see your real name, address, and link to a picture of your house on google maps. Don't worry, it's been already enabled for your convenience!"

  • Easy How To: (Score:4, Informative)

    by Raven737 (1084619) on Thursday July 17, 2008 @01:36AM (#24224295)
    just create any calender entry (single click on an empty field) with just the gmail address in the main 'What:' field, select 'don't send' and open it up (double click)... there you see the full user name of the gmail account.
    Not sure why the article makes it so complicated...

    So the admin@gmail.com guy is named 'smart ass'... poor fellow ;)

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