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Illinois judge approved class-action lawsuit settlement involving Google

This week, an Illinois judge accepted a multimillion-dollar settlement in a class-action case against Google.

During a hearing on Wednesday, Cook County Judge Anna Loftus granted final permission to the $100 million settlement, which had been pre-approved in the spring.

The lawsuit, which was similar to one recently settled with Facebook and resulted in many residents receiving nearly $400 in checks this year, alleged that the company violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act by “collecting and storing biometric data of individuals who, while residing in Illinois, appeared in a photograph in the photograph sharing and storage service known as Google Photos, without proper notice and consent.”

A settlement deal was struck in the case earlier this year, and the deadline for eligible residents to submit claims was last weekend. Google did not answer to NBC 5’s request for comment, but as part of the settlement deal, it did not admit any wrongdoing and contested all accusations made in the lawsuit.

How much and when could qualified residents receive benefits? What you should know if you submitted a claim:

Who was qualified?

According to the settlement page, residents are eligible “if, at any time between May 1, 2015 and April 25, 2022, they appeared in a Google Photos image when they were Illinois residents.”

Residents who were eligible were required to make a claim by September 24.

The deadline for anybody desiring to object or opt out of the settlement was August 10.

How much cash could I obtain?

Those who qualify will get a share of the $100 million settlement fund, after deducting court fees, costs, and expenditures.

Under the terms of the settlement, each of the five named plaintiffs in the complaint will receive $5,000, and the attorneys will share $35 million in fees and costs spent during the course of the litigation.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the judge stated that over 420,000 claims were made in the case, meaning that each individual may get approximately $150. This number is still less than the $200 to $400 that attorneys predicted initially.

When would I get my payment?

Now that the final approval has been given, qualified participants could get their payouts within 90 days, assuming there are no appeals.

However, attorneys caution that despite the court’s approval of the settlement, the case may still be appealed.

The settlement webpage adds, “It is always unpredictable whether and when appeals can be resolved, and doing so can take time.”

What is the Biometric Information Privacy Act of Illinois?

The Biometric Privacy Act of Illinois prevents private companies and institutions, regardless of their location, from collecting biometric information from unaware residents in the state or online. Data cannot be bought, sold, or traded. Unlike in any other state, residents can sue for alleged violations, which has led to hundreds of David-versus-Goliath legal battles against some of the world’s largest corporations.

Citizens can claim civil penalties of up to $5,000 per infraction, multiplied by the number of persons affected and the number of days involved, if a firm is found to have violated Illinois law. There is no state agency involved in enforcement.

Since BIPA is an Illinois legislation, it applies only to inhabitants of the state.

Which further businesses are accused of breaching Illinois law?

To date, no corporation involved in the law-related cases has admitted responsibility, but many have agreed to settlements.

A class action lawsuit was launched against Walmart earlier this month, alleging that the retail behemoth violated Illinois’ Biometric Privacy Act by employing “cameras and advanced video surveillance systems” inappropriately.

A federal judge in Illinois recently granted final permission for a $92 million class-action lawsuit settlement between the social media company TikTok and its users, with Illinois residents slated to get the highest portion of the award due to BIPA.

Additionally, a class-action complaint has been filed against Snapchat’s parent business, alleging that the social network violated the act. In this instance, a $35 million settlement was just announced, albeit a formal approval hearing must still take place.

More than one million Facebook users in Illinois began getting checks earlier this year as a result of a $650 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit alleging that Facebook violated citizens’ rights by gathering and storing digital scans of their faces without authorization.

Microsoft and Amazon are also included among the corporations accused of infringement.

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