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Monday, November 22, 2010

Pointless Google Class Action Lawsuit

You probably heard about the Google class action lawsuit settlement:

Google rarely contacts Gmail users via email, but we are making an exception to let you know that we've reached a settlement in a lawsuit regarding Google Buzz (, a service we launched within Gmail in February of this year.

Shortly after its launch, we heard from a number of people who were concerned about privacy. In addition, we were sued by a group of Buzz users and recently reached a settlement in this case.

The settlement acknowledges that we quickly changed the service to address users' concerns. In addition, Google has committed $8.5 million to an independent fund, most of which will support organizations promoting privacy education and policy on the web. We will also do more to educate people about privacy controls specific to Buzz. The more people know about privacy online, the better their online experience will be.

Just to be clear, this is not a settlement in which people who use Gmail can file to receive compensation. Everyone in the U.S. who uses Gmail is included in the settlement, unless you personally decide to opt out before December 6, 2010. The Court will consider final approval of the agreement on January 31, 2011. This email is a summary of the settlement, and more detailed information and instructions approved by the court, including instructions about how to opt out, object, or comment, are available at

This mandatory announcement was sent to all Gmail users in the United States as part of a legal settlement and was authorized by the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

Google Inc. | 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway | Mountain View, CA 94043
When Google released Buzz, they made the default setting "share all contacts". This meant that you automatically shared all your E-Mail contacts with all of your contacts. Gmail automatically "adds to contacts" anyone you E-Mail a few times. The net effect is that every gmail user shared all their contacts with each other.

This was a huge privacy breach.

As usual, there was a class action lawsuit and settlement. The only people who made any money off the lawsuit were the lawyers.

Of course, there's no meaningful way for Google to reimburse everyone. If you set the fine to be "$100 per gmail user", that would bankrupt Google.

You can "opt out" of the settlement. There's no point hiring your own lawyer when it would be hard to prove substantial actual damages.

The State system of class action lawsuits only benefits lawyers.


Anonymous said...

I obviously got stung via click fraud on Google many years ago, before Google cleaned things up a bit. A university professor spoke to the people at Google and concluded he didn't understand why Google took so long to fix this problem and that the measures they took to prevent Click Fraud worked, although the measures were simple ones.

I emailed Google. To me it was obvious click fraud occurred. For some reason my adverts were being shown on completely unconnected 3rd party websites and the 3rd party websites supposed sent a vast numbers of clicks my way within the first few minutes of each day. My daily budget was exhausted rapidly and I had no budget left over to appear on searches. I even checked my webserver logs and things were suspicious.

I have been a loyal Google Adwords customer for years. Google could have simply refunded the obvious fraud. The money would have been a small amount of all the money they get for me.

But Google just blew nonsense back at me and denied things.

Google aren't that nice a company.

Anonymous said...

The legal system in the US and UK is broken.

Civil court cases give random results and are very expensive. The UK government recent said this themselves when they settled with some people that may have been wrongly imprisoned on terrorist accusations.

Effectively you can sue anyone, at anytime for anything.

As civil court cases give random results and can have costs of millions of pounds/dollars, you are very much forced to try to settle out-of-court.

Unless court costs are lowered, lawsuit threats are essentially extortion.

What happened to the founder of Facebook is an extreme example. He was effectively sued on the premise that if you build a chair, you have to pay everyone that has build a chair before, even if it is a different chair.

Anonymous said...

Wife who walked out and divorced husband 10 years ago for another man, gets 2 million pounds legal payout DESPITE BEING DIVORCED TEN YEARS AGO.


In the sick lawyer world, you can sue anyone, anytime for anything even if you have been part for 10 years.

Anonymous said...

Aren't Google supposed to hire the best and brightest people?

Or has Google started to degenerate into a run-of-the-mill company whereby you only get hired into a decent job if you are a friend of a friend or went to the same university as someone already there?

Wasn't a manger in charge of the Google Buzz project?

Surely the Google clowns could have worked out beforehand there would be a huge privacy breach!

This was not some subtle bug. Any fool reading the project specification could have worked out there would be a problem.

Anonymous said...

I think the legal profession is inherently dishonest.

For example in the UK, I read in the Daily Mail that lawyers now say that unless you explicitly contract that a divorce is final, a divorce is in fact anything but final and that both parties may continually come back and demand that more and more money be paid.

Who made this stuff up? It wasn't Parliament and it wasn't a court.

Now I thought a divorce was final, but lawyers without regard to Parliament or Statutory law or even a court ruling, make up new stuff as they go along.

As the people affected by this may not want to devote years of their life and millions of pounds to court action and multiple appeals, their extortion goes unchecked.

Parliament needs to pass statutory law to clean up these loopholes. But they won't because they used to be lawyers themselves and want the law to be ambiguous.

There is nothing wrong with looking after your children, but somehow lawyers have decided extra things not in law.

Anonymous said...


I won't name the case but in one UK court, a judge failed to make a ruling and said the solicitors should sort the matter out amongst themselves. The solicitors failed to sort the matter out and it went to two more appeals. Yet in all this, no judge said exactly what the law means and how far it goes.

Was this done on purpose? If the judge made a ruling it would have made the law clear. But she choose not to.

She couldn't easily make a ruling that is for a new law altogether as judges are mostly to interpret the law and not make new law.

So she left the situation as ambiguous which leaves the door open for more dodgy, money grabbing little solicitors to extort money from new clients in years to come.

This stupid little judge refused to rule on the matter and now tens to thousands of other people may suffer.

Anonymous said...

Didn't the Google clowns mess up with their streeview data collection? I think they tried to collect private wireless data with their vehicles. I think it was in the UK. They were a huge fuss about it in the press.

I've just found a link. It is

The Google are indeed clowns. They will be clowns in my mind until the refund the money I had to pay to dodgy Indian screensaver websites via Click Fraud. I want my money back clowns at Google!

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