Every Gmail User in the World Just Won a Settlement Against Google and Got Nothing

Congratulations to all Gmail users for winning a class action settlement. You should be proud of yourselves for making Google pay for putting your privacy at risk with its crazy Google Buzz settings. Your reward? A pat on the back.

You can read the full terms of the settlement agreement here, but here's an overview which explains why you don't get anything:

  • First, Google agreed to make, and did make, changes to Buzz that clarify its operation and users' options regarding Google Buzz, including, in particular, changes regarding user information and control over Buzz's privacy settings. The Settlement Agreement recognizes that since the inception of this Action Google has made these changes to Google Buzz.
  • Second, Google will do more to educate users about the privacy aspects of Google Buzz. Google will consider the recommendations of Plaintiffs about the content of that public education. Google will select and design the final content of the public education efforts in its discretion, and will provide a report to Plaintiffs' lead lawyer of the education undertaken.
  • Third, Google will pay a total of $8,500,000 into an interest-bearing account. This $8,500,000, plus interest, will constitute the "Common Fund." Because few, if any, Class Members suffered compensable actual damages and because a pro rata distribution of the fund to the Class would not be feasible due to the size of the Class, the Common Fund amounts in excess of fees, costs, expenses, and incentive awards will be distributed to organizations that advance the privacy interests of internet users such as the Class Members. The Settlement Agreement, available on this website, describes all of the details about the proposed Settlement Agreement.

In plain terms? There are too many people in this settlement and too few actually suffered any damages for Google to bother paying them directly. Instead the company will give the funds to nice Internet privacy organizations.