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Settlement Reached in Google Buzz Class Action Suit
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On Tuesday, users of Google’s Gmail service received information in their inbox regarding a settlement in a class action lawsuit brought against Google by users of the service related to the launch of “buzz” as part of Gmail in February of this year.  Within days of the launch, there were numerous complaints from internet privacy advocates about the way Google handled private information, including exposing the most frequent contact list to other Gmail users without notification or consent.
The court has given preliminary approval to a settlement agreement in the case under which no Gmail users will receive compensation, but requires Google to do three things.  First, Google is required to make changes to the privacy settings within Gmail and to provide its users with better information and control over the privacy settings.  The settlement agreement acknowledges that Google has already taken this step.  Second, Google must do more to educate its users about the privacy aspects of its service, and the final plan for this must be approved by plaintiffs’ attorneys.  Third, Google will pay $8.5 million dollars into a general fund that will be distributed to various groups that advance privacy interests.  This money will not be paid to individual users because under the terms of the settlement both sides agree that most users did not suffer compensable damages and the class size is too large for a fair distribution of the funds.
Final approval of the settlement will be considered by the court in January.  In the meantime, full details of the settlement including information on how to object or how to opt out can be found here.



 

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