Google Pays for Breaching Marylanders’ Privacy, but They’re Not Paying Marylanders

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On the off chance you were considering suing Google for violating your online privacy settings, don’t worry about it. Maryland and 36 other state governments have done it on your behalf. And Google settled for $17 million.

Oh, and did I tell you: none of it’s for you. The settlement is being paid to the state governments. Maryland’s $1 million portion is going into the general fund. 

Yes, $1 million wouldn’t add up to much divided among all the Marylanders whose privacy may have been violated. Yes, theoretically, money in the state’s general fund is being spent for the benefit of residents. Yes, according to Alan Brody of the state attorney general’s office, “there is nothing preventing consumers from filing their own action.”

But isn’t it weird, anyway? What if Google had breached the privacy of just one user? Would the government of that person’s home state have an opportunity to wet its beak before he filed his civil suit?

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