As reported by Law360 (subscription), a California federal judge has granted preliminary approval to a proposed $13 million cy press settlement of the federal multidistrict litigation accusing Google LLC of illegally gathering Wi-Fi network data via its Street View vehicles. As part of the settlement, Google agrees to fund online privacy organizations and educate the public about encrypted networks.
According to Law360, when commenting on the case, U.S. District Judge Charles R. Breyer stated, “We’re now into a whole unexplored, but sensitive area, dealing with privacy in the cyber world. I’d say 10 years ago it was: Who cares?” he added, but he said today it’s clear that people care deeply about internet privacy questions.
“Individuals care, companies care, governments care. I think it’s worthwhile,” noted Bryer.
The proposed cy pres settlement would end the putative class action and give nearly $10 million to eight different organizations with a history of addressing online consumer privacy issues. The remaining funds would be dedicated to plaintiff service awards, attorney fees, and other related expenses.
Along with making monetary payments, Google has agreed to destroy all the data it collected and host webpages for 5 years that are dedicated to teaching the public about the importance of encrypting their networks, along with instructions on how to do so. The settlement also requires that Google not gather any protected data from users with its Street View vehicles without proper notice and consent.
The proposed nonprofit recipients are the Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law, the Center for Digital Democracy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Internet Policy Research Initiative, the World Privacy Forum, Public Knowledge, the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment, the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation and Consumer Reports Inc. Judge Breyer will make a final ruling on the settlement later this year.