Federal Appeals Court Upholds Google ‘Street View’ Settlement

Federal Appeals Court Upholds Google 'Street View' Settlement Federal Appeals Court Upholds Google 'Street View' Settlement The 2020 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

By Peter Malbin | Tuesday, 28 December 2021 02:28 PM

A federal appeals court has upheld Google's settlement in a class action over allegations that it collected Wi-Fi data illegally with its Street View program.

Street View, by Google Maps, enables users to view locations around the world. Street View’s content comes from two sources, Google and contributors.

In 2010, Google was sued by several privacy advocacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Digital Democracy for collecting data such as passwords, emails, documents, and sensitive messages from private Wi-Fi networks from 2008 to 2010 through its Street View program, affecting as many as 60 million people.

Google settled the case in San Francisco federal court in 2018, agreeing to the $13 million payment to nine privacy groups involved in litigation.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the argument that the $13 million settlement was unfair because it only distributed money to privacy groups and did not pay the class members, The Hill reported.

Judge Bridget Bade argued in the decision that it was not feasible to distribute money directly to the 60 million people whose data was allegedly inadvertently collected.

District Judge Charles Breyer approved the settlement last year after two class members and a collection of state attorneys general objected to giving the payments to the organizations.

One of the objectors, David Lowery, then appealed the case, resulting in Monday’s ruling.

Bade, speaking for the three-judge panel, said that distributing the funds to the 60 million affected people would be unrealistic and would cost too much, California Globe reported.

"Because self-identification would be pure speculation, and any meaningful forensic verification of claims would be prohibitively costly and time-consuming, we affirm the district court’s finding that it was not feasible to verify class members’ claims as would be necessary to distribute funds directly to class members," Bade said.

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