How Much Illinoisans Could Get After Google Class-Action Lawsuit Settlement Approved

The lawsuit, which mirrors one recently settled with Facebook that resulted in many residents receiving checks worth nearly $400 this year, claimed the company violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act

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Link video: http://nbclim-download.edgesuite.net/Prod/NBCU_LM_VMS_-_WMAQ/939/495/Judge_Approves_Google_Class-Action_Lawsuit_Settlement_for_Illinois_Residents__625887.mp4

Illinois residents could soon receive their payouts as part of the multi-million dollar Google class-action lawsuit settlement that was approved this week.

The $100 million settlement, which was pre-approved in the spring, was given final approval by Cook County Judge Anna Loftus during a hearing Wednesday.

The lawsuit, which mirrors one recently settled with Facebook that resulted in many residents receiving checks worth nearly $400 this year, claimed the company violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act by “collecting and storing biometric data of individuals who, while residing in Illinois, appeared in a photograph in the photograph sharing and storage service known as Google Photos, without proper notice and consent.”

A settlement agreement was reached in the case earlier this year and eligible residents had until last weekend to file their claims. Google did not respond to NBC 5’s request for comment, but did not admit any wrongdoing as part of the settlement agreement and denied all claims made in the lawsuit.

So how much could eligible residents receive and when? Here’s what to know if you filed a claim:

Who was eligible?

According to the settlement website, residents are eligible “if, at any time between May 1, 2015 and April 25, 2022, you appeared in a photograph in Google Photos while you were an Illinois resident.”

Eligible residents had to submit a claim by Sept. 24.

For those wishing to object or exclude themselves from the settlement, that deadline was Aug. 10.

How much money could I get?

Those who are eligible will receive a portion of the $100 million settlement fund, after court fees, costs and expenses are deducted.

Under the settlement approval, each of the five plaintiffs named in the lawsuit will get $5,000 and attorneys in the case will split $35 million in fees and costs incurred over the course of the case.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the judge indicated around 420,000 claims were filed in the case, which would mean each person could get around $150 each. That number remains lower than the $200 to $400 attorneys initially estimated.

When would I get my payment?

Now that the final approval is granted, as long as there are no appeals, eligible participants could receive their payments within 90 days.

Attorneys warn, however, that though the court approved the settlement, there may still be appeals in the case.

“It is always uncertain whether and when appeals can be resolved, and resolving them can take time,” the settlement website states.

What is the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act?

Illinois’ Biometric Privacy Act prohibits private sector companies and institutions from collecting biometric data from unsuspecting citizens in the state or online, no matter where the business is based. Data cannot be sold, transferred or traded. Unlike any other state, citizens can sue for alleged violations, which has sparked hundreds of David-and-Goliath legal battles against some of the world’s most powerful companies.

If a company is found to have violated Illinois law, citizens can collect civil penalties up to $5,000 per violation compounded by the number of people affected and days involved. No state regulatory agency is involved in enforcement.

Since BIPA is an Illinois law, it only applies to state residents.

Which other companies are being accused of violating the Illinois law?

So far, no company associated with the lawsuits surrounding the law has admitted fault, though many have agreed to settlements.

A class action complaint was filed earlier this month against Walmart, alleging the retail giant violated Illinois’ Biometric Privacy Act by improperly using “cameras and advanced video surveillance systems.”

Recently, a federal judge in Illinois granted final approval for a $92 million class-action lawsuit settlement between the social media network TikTok and users of the platform, with Illinois residents set to receive the largest share of the payout due to BIPA.

A class-action lawsuit has also been brought against Snapchat’s parent company, accusing the social network of violating the act. A $35 million settlement was recently announced in that case, though a final approval hearing still has to take place.

Earlier this year, more than one million Illinois Facebook users began receiving checks following a $650 million settlement in a class-action suit alleging it violated residents’ rights by collecting and storing digital scans of their faces without permission.

Microsoft and Amazon are also among the companies that have been accused of violations.

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