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Panels overturns settlement approval in Google privacy suit

DOVER, Del. — A federal appeals court has rejected a settlement in a class-action lawsuit alleging that Google spied on users’ online activity using tracking “cookies,” even when privacy settings were set to prevent the snooping.

A three-judge panel ruled Tuesday that a Delaware judge erred in approving the settlement in 2017.

The settlement called for Google to stop using the cookies for Safari browsers and to pay $5.5 million to cover plaintiffs’ legal expenses, incentive awards to class representatives, and contributions to data privacy organizations, some with prior ties to Google.

In return, Google was released from potential liability for money damages.

The appeals panel said the judge’s “cursory” settlement analysis was insufficient. It expressed particular concern about the broad release of claims for money damages and the payments to outside groups.

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