Federal Judge Approves Google ‘Buzz’ Settlement

No, Gmail users will not be getting a big check, but the search giant is giving $8.5 million for privacy-related research and policy development

What a buzz kill.

A federal judge on Tuesday gave preliminary approval for Google to settle a lawsuit, stemming from complaints by Gmail users that the company's Google Buzz product violated their privacy.

The settlement requires that Google pay $8.5 million to fund Internet-privacy research and education, but Gmail users will not be getting a check in the mail.

Here's the note Google sent Gmail users on Tuesday afternoon:

Google rarely contacts Gmail users via email, but we are making an exception to let you know that we've reached a settlement in a lawsuit regarding Google Buzz, a service we launched within Gmail in February of this year.

Shortly after its launch, we heard from a number of people who were concerned about privacy. In addition, we were sued by a group of Buzz users and recently reached a settlement in this case.

The settlement acknowledges that we quickly changed the service to address users' concerns. In addition, Google has committed $8.5 million to an independent fund, most of which will support organizations promoting privacy education and policy on the web. We will also do more to educate people about privacy controls specific to Buzz. The more people know about privacy online, the better their online experience will be.

Just to be clear, this is not a settlement in which people who use Gmail can file to receive compensation. Everyone in the U.S. who uses Gmail is included in the settlement, unless you personally decide to opt out before December 6, 2010. The Court will consider final approval of the agreement on January 31, 2011. This email is a summary of the settlement, and more detailed information and instructions approved by the court, including instructions about how to opt out, object, or comment, are available at www.BuzzClassAction.com.

This mandatory announcement was sent to all Gmail users in the United States as part of a legal settlement and was authorized by the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. Google Inc. | 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway | Mountain View, CA 94043