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June 14, 2024

Google just agreed to a $23 million settlement after discovering that the tech giant was sharing searches with third-party sites and companies without explicit user authorization or explicit user agreements. That might seem like a lot of money, but considering that $23 million is roughly 0.0082% of the nearly $280 billion in annual revenue the company generates, much of it from advertising, it’s a drop in the bucket. According to a notice of the proposed settlement in the class-action case, Google agreed to pay; however, it disputed allegations that it shared information and said the settlement was not an admission of wrongdoing.

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What was Google accused of doing that led to the settlement?

The whole basis of the class action is that Google has compromised the privacy of people who use Google to search for information, according to the lawsuit, “store and intentionally, systematically and repeatedly disclose” their search queries and history to third parties without any prior consent.

The lawsuit alleges that Google search queries often contain sensitive and personally identifiable data such as users’ real names, addresses, contact numbers, credit card details, Social Security numbers, financial account numbers, and other information that significantly increases the potential for identity theft.

As part of the settlement, Google also agreed to amend its “FAQ” and “Key Terms” pages regarding the disclosure of search queries to third parties via referrer headers. This disclosure is important because it helps Google users understand how their search queries may be shared when they click on search results and navigate to other websites.

Google headquarters in Mountain View, California. (Photographer: Marlena Sloss/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

What are settlement benefits?

In Google’s Settlement Agreement, Settlement Class Members receive an equal share of the Net Settlement Funds. The amount of money each class member is expected to receive is modest—about $7.70. However, that number is only an estimate and could end up being higher or lower depending on how many members of the Settlement Class file their claims.

Am I eligible to file a claim?

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The $23 million settlement will benefit any Google Search user who clicked on a search result in the United States between October 26, 2006 and September 30, 2013. There are likely to be many people who will fall which is why the $7.70 per person amount is only an estimate and not a guaranteed income for anyone.

How and when should I file a claim?

If you think Google owes you money, you can go to the settlement site to file a claim and complete the required online form or print and complete the form and mail it to:

billing administrator
About the Google Referrer Header Privacy Settlement
c/o Kroll Settlement Administration
PO Box 225391
New York, NY, 10150-5391

google logo

The Google logo is pictured at the Google India office complex in Hyderabad on January 28, 2022. ((NOAH SEELAM/AFP via Getty Images))

Claims must be submitted online or postmarked by 11:59 PM PT July 31st. Final approval hearing for Google settlement scheduled October 12, 2023.

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What if I want to avoid the hassle of filing a claim?

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If you wish to avoid the hassle of filing a claim, you have other courses of action. These options include choosing to take no action, opt out Address the settlement in its entirety, or contest the settlement if you believe it should not have been approved.

Deadlines for objecting to or being excluded from the settlement are alsoJuly 31st.

Remember, if you do file such a claim, you will be under penalty of perjury. If you are not sure whether you are eligible to receive payment from this settlement, you should first review the FAQs page of the Settlement Administrator’s website.

Google legal settlement

If you wish to avoid the hassle of filing a claim, you have other courses of action. (Kroll)

Kurt’s Essentials

It’s a pity that Google was caught sharing private information with third parties, but it’s not surprising, which is why giving back to their users is only right for me. You’ll recall that last year, Facebook’s parent company, Meta, Agreed to pay $725 million to settle A similar class action lawsuit related to its mishandling of user data. Don’t miss your chance to hold Google accountable. Make sure you file your claim before the end of July so you can get your money back.

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Should Google do more than pay a settlement for its wrongdoing? Is it enough to pay? What other consequences do you think there are?tell us by writing CyberGuy.com/Contact

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