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Did You Miss This Google Settlement Email? You May Have Just Days to Meet a Deadline

If you filled out a claim for the class-action settlement involving Google in Illinois, you may want to check your email. Many filers reported receiving an email stating they needed to upload additional documentation in order to complete their claim and receive the approved payout. The email, titled “Claim Determination Notice,” states “it was determined that additional information is required to validate” a user’s claim. Those who receive the email must submit additional information before Dec. 4 in order to potentially receive their check. Those who do not complete the form by that date, or who give an “incomplete response,” will be rejected from the payouts, the letter states. While many reported the email had gone into spam folders, questioning the validity of the request, a spokesperson for Postlethwaite and Netterville, the certified public accountant firm listed on the settlement website, told NBC 5 that the request was legitimate. The spokesperson could not provide further information on why certain individuals were being asked for additional documentation, however. In September, a judge approved a multi-million dollar class-action settlement involving Google over a violation of Illinois’ Biometric Privacy Act. The settlement shares many similarities with a recent settlement with Facebook that resulted in many Illinois residents receiving checks worth just under $400 earlier this year. A settlement agreement was reached in the case earlier this year and eligible residents had until the end of September 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. Here’s what to know about the settlement: 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. illinois lawsuit Aug 25 Google, Facebook and More: A Roundup of Settlements Surrounding Illinois' Biometric Privacy Act Illinois biometric law Aug 30 Yes, The Illinois Snapchat Lawsuit is Real. Here's What to Know About the Settlement in the Case 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. The settlement website states the deadline to issue payments to approved claims is Dec. 27. 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 settlement has also been brought against Snapchat’s parent company, accusing the social network of violating the act. A $35 million settlement was recently approved in that case. 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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