Google wraps up lawsuits over age discrimination, Wi-Fi snooping, child data sharing

Updated: The settlements appear to be modest and will close the book on multiple controversies.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

Google has reportedly settled a slew of lawsuits which accused the company of age discrimination, the poor handling of data belonging to children, and the so-called "Wi-Spy" slurping of home network information. 

Last week, reports surfaced which touched upon each of these lawsuits, and overall, it seems that the proposed settlements which have been reached are somewhat modest considering Google's size and valuation. 

The first case, known as Wi-Spy, has been in the courtroom since 2010. As reported by Bloomberg, the Street View mapping project used vehicles which not only gathered images for Google Maps, but also harvested unencrypted home Wi-Fi information, credentials, and other personal data from countless people worldwide. 

Intercepting these connections resulted in bulk data collection without the consent of individuals. 

Google has agreed to destroy any remaining information it holds from the scandal, but the proposed settlement -- only $13 million -- will only go to a handful of individuals who filed the case, consumer privacy advocates, and legal teams. 

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Individual payouts for those impacted are not on the books, given the difficulty in identifying them years after the privacy violations. 

The second lawsuit that Google is keen to put to rest will see the tech giant pay $11 million. This case revolves around allegations that Google has discriminated against job applicants based on their age.

Individuals with an age of over 40 launched the class-action lawsuit, which represented over 200 people, to end what one former applicant described as a "systematic pattern and practice of discriminating" against older job seekers. Google denied the allegations.  

Update 16.48: Google pointed ZDNet towards court documents, which state: "Google has denied and continues to dispute that it intentionally discriminated against Plaintiff or the Opt-In Plaintiffs, or any other applicant, because of their age."

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Those involved in the lawsuit will likely receive over $35,000 each in recompense. 

The final case relates to how Google handed information belonging to minors using the video streaming platform YouTube. Reports suggest that Google has reached a settlement with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) after allegedly violating federal laws, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which was established to protect child data. 

A multimillion-dollar fine is expected but there has not yet been any public disclosure of the exact figure Google will pay. 

See also: Major Chinese Android developer booted from Google Play for drowning users in adverts

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