A federal judge has approved a class-action settlement requiring Google to pay $6 million to settle a lawsuit alleging that its apps company, Slide, spammed people with SMS messages.
The deal calls for Google to pay up to $500 to people who received unwanted messages, and $1.5 million to the class-action lawyers who brought the case. Any leftover money will be donated to the International Association of Privacy Professionals.
“The settlement agreement is fair, reasonable, adequate, and in the best interests of the settlement class,” U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in Oakland, Calif. wrote last week in an order granting final approval to the deal. “The complex legal and factual posture of this case, and the fact that the settlement agreement is the result of arms’ length negotiations presided over by a neutral mediator support this finding.”
The settlement stems from a class-action filed by consumers Nicole
Pimental and Jessica Franklin, who alleged that Disco (Slide's group messaging app) violates the Telephone Consumer Protection Act by using an automated dialing service to send SMS messages to people
without first obtaining their consent. Disco allows individuals to send group texts to up to 99 people at one time.
Recipients can opt out, but can't prevent the initial message from arriving. The company allegedly sent a total of 400,000 spam SMS messages to around 186,000 telephone numbers, according to the court papers. Pimental and Franklin were represented by attorney Jay Edelson, who has filed privacy lawsuits against numerous Web companies.
Before signing off on the deal, Rogers questioned why the IAPP should receive any surplus funds. Trevor Hughes, President and CEO of the IAPP, responded in court papers that the group intends to use the funds to create a compliance guide to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. Numerous companies -- including Viacom, Facebook, Yahoo and Coca-Cola -- currently face lawsuits for allegedly sending SMS messages without users' permission.