Google settles $600 million in privacy lawsuits. Do you owe cash?
Between September 2022 and January 2023, Google settled a series of sweeping privacy lawsuits, resulting in nearly $600 million in damages. settlement payments For affected states and users. So what happened with each lawsuit, and what would you expect if Google violated your privacy?
Google Illinois Settlement: $100 million
On September 28, a judge in Cook County, Illinois, agreed to a final settlement of $100 million in a lawsuit (Opens in a new tab) Google’s face aggregator, which sorts faces on Google Images by similarity, allegedly violated Illinois’ biometric privacy law, according to Chicago Tribune (Opens in a new tab). Illinois law requires companies to obtain users’ consent before collecting and saving biometric information.
The 420,000 Illinois residents who file settlement compensation claims can get checks for $154 each.
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After final approval, payments were expected to begin within 90 days. However, the lawyers cautioned that although the court has approved the settlement, there is still no appeal in the case, according to the statement. NBC Chicago (Opens in a new tab).
In fact, there is a file The current appeal is pending (Opens in a new tab) against the Settlement Officer over how they assess the validity of consumer claims, which may delay payments to all claimants.
Arizona AG settlement: $85 million
On Oct. 4, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich reached an $85 million settlement to resolve a lawsuit that accused Google of secretly obtaining user data to sell ads, according to News agency (Opens in a new tab) (AP).
Arizona prosecutors have been investigating Google since 2018 when the Associated Press revealed that Google was misleading consumers about its practices with user tracking and location data. Brnovich’s office filed the current lawsuit against Google in May 2020.
It appears that affected Google users in Arizona will not receive any direct cash payments from this settlement. instead of it, Brnovich’s office announced (Opens in a new tab) The settlement directs the bulk of the money to the Arizona public fund, which will require legislative approval before it can be spent.
In addition, $5 million will be allocated to “general lawyer education programs.”
Settlement with 40 countries: $391.5 million
In November 2022, Google reached a record-breaking $391.5 million privacy settlement with a 40-country coalition of prosecutors, according to The New York Times (Opens in a new tab). The settlement resolved the fee that Google convinced users to disable tracking of their location, but instead Google continued to collect this information.
Google has violated every state consumer protection law, the attorney general said, by continuing to collect and store a detailed map of users’ movements through services such as search, maps, and apps that connect to Wi-Fi and cell phone towers.
According to Oregon AG Ellen Rosenblum’s office, the agreement was the largest Internet privacy settlement by US states.
On top of paying nearly $400 million in public funds to the state in the 40 participating countries, Google has agreed to significantly improve its location tracking disclosures and user controls starting in 2023, including:
- show additional information to users whenever they turn the account setting associated with the site “on” or “off”;
- making basic information about location tracking unavoidable to users (eg, not hidden); And
- Give users detailed information about the types of location data Google collects and how it is used on the Enhanced Location Technologies web page.
It’s not clear if any of the 40 participating states will create settlement funds for affected residents who use Google to claim cash damages.
California settlement: $23 million
On January 5, 2023, Google agreed to pay California-based Unified Problem Solving $23 million class actionto me Bloomberg Law (Opens in a new tab). the Court case (Opens in a new tab) She was working her way through litigation 12 years (Opens in a new tab).
The plaintiffs allege that Google shared their personal search queries with third-party advertisers without their permission, revealing personal information about users in the process.. The suit also alleges that marketers paid Google to learn more about specific search-related factors that led a customer to click on a particular page. The suit alleged that Google’s data-sharing practices violated the federal Stored Communications Act and state laws in California.
On top of a proposed $23 million payment fund for affected Google users, the proposed settlement also requires Google to provide additional disclosures to users about its search term sharing practices.
The settlement deal still requires court approval before user compensation claims can be processed and payments can be sent, according to AndroidCentral (Opens in a new tab). Affected consumers can expect federal review and possible approval in the coming months.