Google wins court approval for $8.5m settlement of Buzz privacy case

Google has won preliminary court approval to settle a class-action lawsuit related to alleged privacy violations caused by its Buzz social networking service.

Google has won preliminary court approval to settle a class-action lawsuit related to alleged privacy violations caused by its Buzz social networking service.

The class-action against Google alleged that Gmail users were automatically enrolled in Buzz and that their data, including most-frequent contacts, was publicly exposed without user consent.

Google's Buzz service drew widespread criticism from privacy groups around the world at its launch, but Google has sincerevamped the Buzz service so it is not enabled automatically and gives users more control over displaying personal information.

The company has agreed to pay $8.5m into a fund that will be used to support organisations promoting education about privacy on the web, and has committed to step up efforts to educate users about the privacy aspects of Buzz, according to the New York Times.

But none of the people represented in the class-action lawsuit will receive any of the money. "Just to be clear, this is not a settlement in which people who use Gmail can file to receive compensation," Google said in an e-mail to Gmail users.

The company gave no indication of what the lawyers involved in the case will get.

Google said the settlement acknowledges that it quickly changed the Buzz service to address users' concerns.

Anyone who wants to object to the settlement must do so with the United States District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose before 10 January.

Final approval of the proposed settlement will be considered by the court on 31 January 2011.

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