Google Calendar spams attendees!

I’m using Google Calendar Sync at work to synchronize all my Outlook meetings to my Google Calendar. This works pretty well. It even enables me to synchronize my Google Calendar to my iPhone using the MS Exchange server infrastructure from a company called Nuevasync. Nuevasync also supports push technology to send new meetings to my iPhone. This is a very nice way to synchronize all my private and work calendar data automatically and immediately to my iPhone without having to use (and to pay for) a .me account.

The push feature in the iPhone seems to drain battery life pretty fast, at least in the current iPhone software version 2.0.2. That’s why I instructed my iPhone to do an hourly fetch instead of an immediate push from the Exchange server.

So far so great, isn’t it? There’s just this one issue that makes the whole scenario totally useless. 

Added 11-19-2008: This problem has been fixed lately by Google, it won’t send out any attendee reminder-spams e-mails!

Google Calendar sends out reminders to every attendee of a meeting who has no Google email address. This can’t be disabled. Imagine your weekly staff meeting with 50+ attendees gets synchronized to your Google Calendar and 24 hours before the meeting Google sends out a reminder to all those attendees with your name at the top. Wouldn’t that be slightly embarassing to you? Well, I was embarassed when it happened to me. To make things worse it happened when I was on holiday so it happened more than once without me even knowing about it until I got back.

I had to stop working with Google Calendar immediately. I had to delete the whole calendar to get rid of all meetings instantly to make sure there’s no attendee-spam being sent in the future.

The flaw is registered in Google Code – as an enhancement request with medium priority. This bug has been around since late 2007 and hasn’t been fixed so far. It even could be exploited by spammers to send out large amounts of reminders with spam text in them. Maybe this would generate at least SOME attention to the problem. Hopefully, there’s no spammer stumbling upon this post :-)

4 replies on “Google Calendar spams attendees!”

  1. Looks like the bug has been fixed in late September. At least someone from Google says so. I’ll update the blog post after verifying the claim.

  2. I wouldn’t put any company calendar information on an internet service for confidentiality reasons which would avoid these unpleasant surprises altogether.

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