Google To Pay $350 Million In Data Privacy Class Action Lawsuit

Data security issues are costing the tech giant a substantial figure in this class action lawsuit.

Google has agreed to pay $350 million to settle a class action lawsuit with shareholders in which the tech giant is accused of inadvertently exposing user data.

Back in March 2018, Google was alerted to a 3-year software glitch that supposedly disclosed data from its now-defunct Google+ platform.

This news comes just over a month after the tech giant agreed to another out-of-court settlement for the $5 billion Incognito-mode tracking lawsuit.

Google+ Data Breach

The lawsuit revolves around a data breach that took place between 2015 and 2018, in which personal data from an estimated 500,000 Google+ users was exposed. This included names, birthdays, emails, occupations, and addresses.

According to company shareholders, Google executives were aware of the data breach, but concerned that sharing it would lead to regulatory and public scrutiny. Despite concealing the Google+ breach, Google remained vocal on its data privacy commitments elsewhere.

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The court found that Google did not disclose the breach promptly enough which resulted in share prices plummeting and billions of dollars being wiped off its market value. 

Google Deny Wrongdoing

A preliminary settlement was filed in San Francisco federal court on Monday following more than a year of mediation.

In agreeing to settle, Google denied wrongdoing and stated it found no evidence that data has been misused. 

Google Spokesperson Jose Castaneda said: “We regularly identify and fix software issues, disclose information about them, and take these issues seriously. This matter concerns a product that no longer exists and we are pleased to have it resolved.”

A Second Attempt At Google Case

The lawsuit, led by Rhode Island Treasurer James Diossa, took place on behalf of a state pension fund that owned Alphabet stock. It covers Alphabet shareholders from April 23, 2018 to April 30, 2019.

It wasn’t the first time this had been brought to light however. Back in 2020, a different judge dismissed the shareholder case but it was revived in 2021 by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. 

Jason Forge, one of the Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd partners representing the shareholders said: 

“Most people thought no one would recover a penny in this case, and when the first judge granted Google a dismissal the ‘I told you so's' were deafening. That just made Rhode Island and us more determined.”

Court papers also show that the shareholders' lawyers may seek up to $66.5 million from the settlement for fees.

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Written by:
Ellis Di Cataldo (MA) has over 9 years experience writing about, and for, some of the world’s biggest tech companies. She's been the lead writer across digital campaigns, always-on content and worldwide product launches, for global brands including Sony, Electrolux, Byrd, The Open University and Barclaycard. Her particular areas of interest are business trends, startup stories and product news.
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