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Google to pay $350m in settlement over Google Plus data leak

Google logo in front of the corporate building in Mountain View, California

Google has agreed to a $350 million settlement over a lawsuit related to a security flaw on Google Plus.

The complaint says Google inadvertently exposed users' personal data through the now-defunct social media website. 

The company is also facing another legal battle for tracking Chrome users' data in incognito mode

The potential costs of that case could be billions, though the exact figure remains unspecified.

The settlement benefits people who bought Google stock between April 23, 2018, and April 30, 2019. 

These shareholders will be eligible for compensation, with details to be communicated via mail and a dedicated website.

The issue came to light in 2018 when it was discovered that Google Plus leaked millions of users' data to third-party developers for years.

Google executives initially chose not to disclose publicly the fact. 

Internal communications reveal this breach could attract regulatory scrutiny similar to that faced by Facebook during the Cambridge Analytica scandal. 

The eventual public disclosure, prompted by investigative journalism, led to a significant drop in Google's stock value and negative media attention.

Google previously settled a class-action lawsuit related to the data breach, compensating affected users with nominal sums. 

The current settlement resolves a lawsuit initiated by the Rhode Island government, representing an investor in Google.

It found its way through the courts for five years, and Google attempted unsuccessfully to appeal to the Supreme Court.

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Google spokesperson José Castañeda said: “We regularly identify and fix software issues, disclose information about them, and take these issues seriously.

“This matter concerns a product that no longer exists and we are pleased to have it resolved.”

This settlement is part of a series of legal and regulatory scrutinies Google and other tech giants face, mainly around competition and privacy issues. 

Google faces a federal jury ruling against the company for monopolistic practices in the app store market.

In September, Google could be hit with another lawsuit from the US Department of Justice regarding alleged anticompetitive behavior in the digital advertising sector.

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