Privacy groups oppose the current offer to settle a 2010 suit that “Google transmitted user search queries to third parties without knowledge or consent in order to enhance advertising revenue and profitability.” According to the 2010 complaint Google included:
The search terms can contain users' real names, street addresses, phone numbers, credit card numbers and social security numbers, all of which increases the risk of identity theft, according to the original complaint. Those queries can also contain highly-personal and sensitive issues, such as confidential medical information, racial or ethnic origins, political or religious beliefs or sexuality.
The class is actually quite large as Computerworld reported that Google’s proposed settlement of the 2010 class action:
…provides for a single settlement class, in this case all persons in the U.S. who submitted a search query to Google at any time from Oct. 25, 2006 until the date of the notice of the proposed class action settlement.
On August 22, 2013 Electronic Privacy Information Center (Epic) sent US District Judge Edward Davila a joint letter opposing the settlement on behalf of: Consumer Watchdog, Patient Privacy Rights, the Center for Digital Democracy and the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.
Epic complained in its letter about Google’s settlement proposal that:
- it fails to require Google to make any substantive changes to its business practices;
- it provides no monetary relief to the class;
Specifically Computerworld reported that part of the settlement:
…is meant to cover settlement administration expenses and part will be paid to the World Privacy Forum, Carnegie-Mellon, Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University and Stanford Center for Internet, and Society among others.
Given the fact that according to Pew Research more than +92% of adults use search engines every day this will be an interesting case to watch.