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Google worms out of class-action law suit

Google emailed US users of its Gmail service to tell them it had settled a class action lawsuit brought against the company over its Buzz cock up.

The Internet search outfit miffed many users with its cumbersome attempt to turn its email service into some sort of social network.

Google soon received complaints from people who thought their contacts were being made public without their knowledge and others, "who felt they had too little control over who could follow them and were upset that they lacked the ability to block people who didn't yet have public profiles from following them".

Users found they were "following" people they didn't want to follow and were being "followed" by people they didn't want following them. It tweaked the settings but a class action law suit ensued.

The settlement of the lawsuit will not mean that Gmail users will be compensated for the angst they suffered. Rather Google has offered to put $8.5 million into a fund that it says will be used to "educate" people about privacy on the Web.

The outfit is currently supposed to be educating its own employees about privacy, after having stolen information from private wi-fi networks with its Street View cars

According to Google, "The more people know about privacy online, the better their online experience will be."

In a statement, a lawyer acting on behalf of the plaintiffs said: "We feel this settlement has many benefits to class members, including providing a significant amount of money to non-profit groups committed to educating users about Internet privacy and ensuring that Buzz users can join this on-line community without compromising their privacy."

U.S. users have until January 10, 2011 to object to the settlement. The rest if us can object but there'll be no-one listening.