The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday directed a lower court to take another look at a lawsuit that involved Google and privacy concerns and ended in a class-action settlement.
Google had agreed to pay $8.5 million to end an internet privacy dispute. Plaintiffs had accused the search engine operator of wrongdoing, violating federal privacy law by allowing other websites to see users’ search queries.
Of the $8.5 million amount, $2.1 million went to lawyers, $1 million paid administrative costs and $5.3 million was set aside for six organizations that deal with internet privacy issues. The individuals who initially sued received $5,000 each, but the millions of Google users they represented received nothing.
The justices threw out a ruling by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that had upheld the settlement and directed it to take a fresh look at whether the plaintiffs had actually been harmed by Google and had the necessary legal standing.
The Google settlement was challenged by attorneys including Ted Frank of the Hamilton Lincoln Law Institute, which advocates against what it considers abusive class action procedures.