Google’s class-action settlement meant to resolve claims was shut down by the court on the grounds that Google invaded the privacy of millions of computer users by installing “cookie” in their browsers. In return, Google paid them nothing for their troubles.
The 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, in a 3-0 decision stated that it could not tell if the settlement of $5.5 million was fair, adequate and reasonable. It also suggested that the case should be revisited by a low court judge.
Sources said that a unit of the alphabet, Google, have been accused of exploiting loopholes in Apple’s Safari and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browsers to help advertisers bypass cookie blockers.
The settlement was approved in February 2017 by US District Judge Sue Robinson, but in the decision of Tuesday, Thomas Ambro, the Circuit Judge, said that the settlement raised a red flag and the case was returned to the Delaware Court.
The decision proved to be a victory for Ted Frank, the litigation director at Hamilton Lincoln Law Institute and prominent critic of many class action settlements.
Frank suggested that under the legal document called “cy pres” the money awarded to the privacy groups should have gone to class members like him.
“Cy pres” which means as near as possible is used in the settlements that cover large numbers of class members who might otherwise receive only tiny amounts.
Ambro also noted that the Chief Justice John Roberts has expressed concerns regarding cy pres and also told that cy pres awards are considered as ‘scepticism’ by many federal courts because of the fact that they could prompt the class counsel to put forth their own interests ahead of their clients.
The case is In re: Google Inc Cookie Placement Consumer Privacy Litigation, 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 17-1480.