Google is paying $8.5 million to settle a class action lawsuit alleging that the company was sharing search queries with third parties without the searchers knowing about it or giving them permission to do so.
The case stems from a suit filed by Paloma Gaos all the way back in 2010, who according to Search Engine Land, sued the company after doing vanity searches for her name and family members, claiming Google violated federal and California laws by passing these to sites she clicked on. In February of last year, Gabriel Priyev reportedly filed similar suit before agreeing to add it to a combined suit with Gaos.
MediaPost appears to be the first to have broken the settlement news, reporting on court papers filed on Friday in San Jose:
Matt McGee at Search Engine Land shares a statement from the company:
Referrers have long been an important part of the web, helping website owners understand how a visitor found their site. We’re pleased to have reached a settlement, avoiding the burden of further litigation and bringing users clarity around how referrers work.
While the suit was started by a pair of Google users, the money will not be going to them, but to various schools and nonprofit organizations, including Harvard Law's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Stanford Law's Center for Internet and Society, the MacArthur Foundation, and AARP.