Google to Pay $17M to Settle Safari Browser Privacy Lawsuit
By Dominic Rivera
Google Inc. has agreed to a $17 million settlement with 37 states and the District of Columbia for bypassing the privacy settings in Apple’s Safari web browser.
Stanford researcher Jonathan Mayer discovered in February 2012 that Google and three other online ad companies circumvented the default privacy settings of Apple’s Safari web browser and were able to place tracking cookies on other computers without their knowledge.
“Consumers should be able to know whether there are other eyes surfing the web with them,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said.
Google did not admit to any wrongdoing and stressed that they had “taken steps to remove the ad cookies, which collected no personal information from Apple’s browsers.”
Aside from the $17 million settlement, Google is required to honor the default settings in web browsers. The company will also have to “provide a separate stand-alone page or pages on the Google.com domain designed to give information to users about Cookies (the “Cookie Page).”
“Google shall maintain systems configured to instruct Safari brand web browsers to expire any Cookie placed from the doubleclick.net domain by Google through Feb. 15, 2012 if those systems encounter such a Cookie, with the exception of the DoubleClick opt-out Cookie. Such systems shall remain in place until Feb. 15, 2014, at which time all Cookies placed from the doubleclick.net domain by Google on Safari brand web Browsers through Feb. 15, 2012 should have expired by design,” the agreement states.
The $17 million will be divided and paid by Google directly to each of the Attorneys General in the amount to be designated by and in the sole discretion of The Executive Committee of the Multistate.
The following states are listed as beneficiaries of the settlement: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin, and District of Columbia.
Just last month, a Delaware judge ruled to throw out a consumer class action lawsuit over the same nature. The dismissal came shortly after one of the other defendants in the case, digital advertising company PointRoll, agreed to settle its portion of the class action lawsuit.
The judge overseeing the Google cookie tracking MDL preliminarily approved the PointRoll class action settlement on Oct. 7 and ruled Oct. 31 that its dismissal of Google and the other defendants from the case does not eliminate the Court’s jurisdiction to approve the PointRoll settlement. A Final Approval Hearing is set for Jan. 3, 2014.
Top Class Actions will continue to update our readers on this case and provide claim filing instructions for the PointRoll class action settlement when they become available.
The Google Safari Tracking Class Action Lawsuit is In re Google Cookie Placement Consumer Privacy Litigation, Case No. 1:12-md-02358-SLR, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).
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