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January 13, 2014

Is Google abusing your privacy?

New Google+ feature allows you to be contacted by strangers.

By Ben Sullivan

Google has quietly ushered in an update to its Gmail platform, allowing users to send messages directly to other Gmail accounts, even if the recipient hasn’t shared their email address.

The feature encompasses everyone signed up to both Gmail and Google+, and has caused furor amongst internet privacy activists.

Defending its move, however, Google has said that the move makes it easier to communicate with friends.

But privacy campaigner Marc Rotenberg, who works at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said that the new update is "troubling".

"There is a strong echo of the Google Buzz snafu," he said, referring to an early version of a Google social network, which made a list of Gmail users’ contacts available publicly online.

With the update, users typing an address into the ‘to’ field of an email will now see a list of their Google+ connections, even if they do not have the email address of that recipient.

Google announced the feature on its Gmail blog, and said that update would make it "easier for people using Gmail and Google+ to connect over email".

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