In a significant development, tech giant Google has agreed to a $350 million settlement to resolve a long-standing lawsuit concerning a security breach that exposed the personal data of users of its now-defunct social media platform, Google Plus. The settlement, announced after years of legal battles, follows a series of recent legal challenges against the company over data privacy concerns.
This settlement comes hot on the heels of another recent agreement by Google to settle a lawsuit brought by users of its Chrome web browser, who alleged that their data was being tracked despite using private browsing mode. While the specific amount for that settlement has yet to be disclosed, it could potentially cost Google billions.
According to court documents filed with the U.S. Court for the Northern District of California, individuals who purchased Google’s stock between April 23, 2018, and April 30, 2019, will have the opportunity to claim a portion of the settlement. Eligible investors will receive notification by mail, and a dedicated website will be established to provide further information.
The lawsuit against Google stemmed from a revelation in 2018 that the company’s systems had inadvertently exposed the personal data of millions of Google Plus users to external developers for several years. Despite internal awareness of the security lapse, Google chose not to disclose the breach to the public or its shareholders at the time.
Legal actions ensued, including a class-action lawsuit settled in 2018 for $7.5 million, which primarily compensated users affected by the data breach. However, the recent settlement pertains to a case brought by the Rhode Island government, representing an investor in Google, which had been ongoing for five years. Google attempted unsuccessfully to appeal the case to the Supreme Court before reaching this settlement.
This settlement marks the latest in a series of legal setbacks for Google. In December, a federal jury in San Francisco found Google guilty of illegal monopoly practices in the app store space. Additionally, Google agreed to another substantial payout in December to users of its Chrome web browser, accused of tracking users even in private browsing mode.
Looking ahead, Google is slated to face further legal scrutiny in September when it heads to trial against allegations by the U.S. Department of Justice, which contends that the company has violated competition laws in the digital advertising market. These legal battles underscore the growing regulatory challenges faced by tech giants concerning data privacy and competition practices.