21st Century Wire says…
It’s a familiar theme. Whenever there is a dispute or a change of law, and two tribes go to war, there is normally only one real winner after the tribulation… the lawyers.
In late 2013, Yahoo was hit with six lawsuits over its practice of using automated scans of e-mail to produce targeted ads.
The cases, which were consolidated in federal court, all argued that the privacy rights of non-Yahoo users, who “did not consent to Yahoo’s interception and scanning of their emails,” were being violated by a multi-billion dollar company.
Now, lawyers representing the plaintiffs are singing a different tune. Last week, they asked US District Judge Lucy Koh to accept a proposed settlement (PDF). Under the proposal, the massive class of non-Yahoo users won’t get any payment, but the class lawyers at Girard Gibbs and Kaplan Fox intend to ask for up to $4 million in fees. (The ultimate amount of fees will be up to the judge, but Yahoo has agreed not to oppose any fee request up to $4 million.)
While users won’t get any payment, Yahoo will change how it handles user e-mails—but it isn’t the change that the plaintiffs attorneys were originally asking for. Yahoo won’t stop scanning e-mails. Instead, the company has agreed to make a technical change to when it scans e-mails. In the settlement (PDF), Yahoo has agreed that e-mail content will be “only sent to servers for analysis for advertising purposes after a Yahoo Mail user can access the email in his or her inbox.”
The settlement deal looks pretty similar to what Yahoo had argued it did in the first place…
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