Biggest tech industry apologies of 2010 - so far

The tech industry has not been without its fair share of apologies during the first half of 2010

While apologies from BP to the world regarding its environmental disaster and even from a U.S. Congressman to BP have stolen headlines of late, the tech industry has not been without its fair share of apologies during the first half of 2010 either.

Google: Sorry about Buzz, Street View privacy issues

Google acknowledged in February that it blew its rollout of the Buzz social network and issued a slew of changes to address privacy concerns, in particular an auto-following feature.

"We've heard your feedback loud and clear, and since we launched Google Buzz four days ago, we've been working around the clock to address the concerns you've raised," wrote Todd Jackson, a Google product manager, in a blog post

Also read: Tech companies had lots to be sorry for in 2009 

"We're very sorry for the concern we've caused and have been working hard ever since to improve things based on your feedback. We'll continue to do so," he added.

By May, Google was under siege for another error in privacy judgment, and again was issuing an apology ("The engineering team at Google works hard to earn your trust—and we are acutely aware that we failed badly here. We are profoundly sorry for this error and are determined to learn all the lessons we can from our mistake."). 

This time, the company was being called out for its Street View vehicles collecting people's Internet communications from open wireless networks. But Google's apology didn't stop outraged parties from jumping in, with a consumer group calling on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Google and an ISP filing suit over Google allegedly violating state and federal privacy protection laws.

Earlier in the year, Google also apologized to a Chinese authors' group over its scanning of books by local writers into an online search system, moving to defuse copyright concerns around the project in China. 

Adobe apologizes for old Flash bug

Adobe in February issued a mea culpa for allowing a 16-month-old bug in its Flash Player to fester without a patch despite the fact that the plug-in itself was updated four times since the flaw was revealed.Adobe did eventually fix the bug in the beta for Flash Player 10.1. Emmy Huang, a product manager for Adobe Flash Player, explained in a blog post how the lack of follow-up took place and said actions would be taken to avoid something similar happening in the future.

McAfee's antivirus snafu

McAfee in April apologized for its anti-virus update that took down Windows XP computers around the world, although the company said the problem affected a small percentage of its customers. ("We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this has caused our customers.")

A statement issued by a McAfee spokesman says that less than .5% of McAfee users were hit by the update, which misidentified a legitimate function as a virus and killed it. The results were computers locked in a reboot loop.

The statement also said the fatal fix passed the company's quality testing and described the effects on customer machines as "moderate to significant issues."

AT&T begs pardon for iPad e-mail breach

The carrier in June apologized for a hack that exposed thousands of iPad customers' e-mail addresses and vowed to work with law enforcement to prosecute those responsible.

"We apologize for the incident and any inconvenience it may have caused," wrote Dorothy Attwood, AT&T's chief privacy officer, in an e-mail sent to affected customers. "Rest assured, you can continue to use your AT&T 3G service on your iPad with confidence."

A hacking group called Goatse Security obtained about 114,000 e-mail addresses of people such as White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg by exploiting an authentication page on AT&Ts Web site.

The group found that entering a correct serial number for the iPad's SIM card, called an integrated circuit card identification (ICC-ID), the log-in page would return an e-mail address associated with that iPad. They wrote code that would randomly generate those serial numbers and queried the Web site until an e-mail addresses were returned, according to AT&T.

The AT&T infospill even inspired this satire by Network World's John Cox

Facebook apologizes for privacy shortcomings, sort of

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg penned a sort of non-apology apology in the Washington Post in May in response to user unrest over the social networking site's ever-changing and often-confusing privacy and security policies.

Zuckerberg pledged that the company would simplify things to make users more comfortable, though some, like supporters of Quit Facebook Day and Infoworld columnist Robert X. Cringely, aren't convinced that Facebook has really seen the errors of its ways.

Ellen Degeneres didn't mean to hurt Apple's feelings

Talk show host/comic Ellen Degeneres apologized to Apple in May after the company let it be known it wasn't laughing at an iPhone spoof she ran on her program.

"I thought it was funny, a bunch of people thought it was funny," she said. "You know who didn't think it was funny? The people at Apple didn't think it was so funny."

Apple: Sorry we couldn't keep up with iPhone 4 orders

Apple apologized in June for having a problem most companies only wish they had: its new iPhone 4 are so popular that pre-orders swamped its online order and approval systems

"Many customers were turned away or abandoned the process in frustration," said Apple in a statement. "We apologize to everyone who encountered difficulties, and hope that they will try again or visit an Apple or carrier store once the iPhone 4 is in stock."

The problems drove iPhone 4 hungry customers to Apple's physical stores to place their orders instead.

This article includes reporting from IDG News Service, PC World, Infoworld and Computerworld.

Follow Bob Brown on Twitter at www.twitter.com/alphadoggs

Read more about wide area network in Network World's Wide Area Network section.

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