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Supreme Court to Hear Arguments about Controversial Consumer Privacy Settlement

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments this week in Frank v. Gaos, a class action settlement that provided no benefit to Internet users. Google disclosed user search histories to third parties without consent, a practice that could violate federal and state privacy laws. But under the terms of the settlement, Google "will not be required or requested to make any changes" to its business practices. Also, no funds were provided to the Internet users on whose behalf the case was brought. EPIC filed an amicus brief arguing that the settlement was not "fair, reasonable, and adequate." EPIC stated, "The proposed settlement is bad for consumers and does nothing to change Google's business practices." A federal appeals court narrowly approved the settlement, 2-1, with the dissenting judge warning that courts must be on the lookout "not only for explicit collusion, but also for more subtle signs that class counsel have allowed pursuit of their own self-interests." EPIC and several consumer privacy organization objected to the original settlement on three separate occasions. EPIC routinely opposes class action settlements that fail to benefit consumers and Internet users.

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