Earlier litigation claimed that Google used cars and trucks to steal personal information such as email, passwords and other personal information from tens of millions of unencrypted home WiFi networks around the world.
The agreement still needs to be approved by a San Francisco judge. But in the settlement proposed last Friday night, WiFi owners who were captured by Google would not receive individual compensation, but about 20 plaintiffs filed class action lawsuits.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs said that nearly a decade after the case occurred, it was difficult to identify a large number of affected people from random data fragments collected by Google Street View vehicles in the route area.
Instead, according to a court document detailing the terms of the settlement, the rest will be allocated to a small number of consumer privacy groups, after deducting administrative costs and a 25 per cent commission received by litigants.
In addition, Google will destroy all the data it still has and promise to teach people about protecting Internet privacy.
Google is about to pay less than a sixth of its parent company Alphabet's daily average net income. Over the past decade, Google, Facebook and other Internet companies have paid roughly that level for settlement fees in order to end suspicions of privacy violations.
One of the reasons why larger solutions are not available is that it is difficult for consumers to prove that they have actually been hurt and that they are legally entitled to damages.
Street View litigation is one of the few cases in which consumers have the upper hand. In particular, the San Francisco Court of Appeal in 2013 rejected Google's view that intercepting WiFi networks was legal because they resembled AM/FM radio transmission. The Court concluded that Google had violated the federal wiretapping law, which meant that if Google was tried and failed, it might have to pay a fine of $10,000 for every violation of the law.
But in a document filed last Friday, plaintiff lawyers said the settlement was reasonable, partly because they were still at risk of losing the lawsuit and ultimately failed. The plaintiff also said that the agreement would act as a deterrent and that funds allocated to privacy groups would be used.educationThe future information technology workers will "become the protector of Internet privacy, not the disseminator of personal information on the Internet".