Google LLC has reached a $13 million settlement in multidistrict litigation accusing the tech giant of illegally gathering Wi-Fi network data with its Street View car fleet, agreeing to fund online privacy organizations and educate the public about encrypted networks.
The proposed cy pres settlement — one paid to charities instead of to class members — filed Friday in California federal court would end the putative class action and give about $10 million to eight groups with a history of addressing online consumer privacy issues. The rest of the funds would be dedicated to attorney fees, plaintiff service awards and other related expenses.
Aside from the monetary settlement, Google agreed to destroy all the data it gathered and for five years host webpages dedicated to teaching users the "value" of encrypting their networks along with instructions on how to do so. The settlement also calls for Google not to gather any of the protected data from users with its Street View vehicles without notice and consent.
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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.
The long-running case stems from Google's May 2010 announcement that its Street View cars had collected data sent over unencrypted Wi-Fi networks as the cars passed by. The company was then targeted in several class actions, which were consolidated in November 2010.
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The plaintiffs are represented by Jeffrey L. Kodroff, John A. Macoretta and Mary Ann Giorno Geppert of Spector Roseman & Kodroff PC, Daniel A. Small of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC and Elizabeth J. Cabraser, Michael W. Sobol and Melissa Gardner of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP.
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