Many businesses will experience a dispute with another company, supplier, customer, employee or even the government. In some situations, these disputes can lead to commercial litigation. When litigation ensues, there are there are a few ways for companies to resolve the lawsuits — the issue can be taken to trial and a court can decide the matter, the parties can engage in alternative dispute resolution to reach an acceptable outcome or the parties can negotiate a settlement.
Google recently negotiated a settlement with a number of state governments — including New Jersey — to end litigation over its data collection practices. Between 2008 and March 2010, Google was accused of equipping its Street View cars with special software and antennae used to collect data from unprotected wireless networks. As these cars drove across the United States they would collect and store payload data for future use. The state governments claimed that this was a deceptive practice and infringed on people’s privacy.
Google says it did not know this information was being stored. The antennae have since been removed from all Street View cars.
Under the terms of the settlement, Google will destroy all of the data it collected and will pay $7 million to the states. Furthermore, Google will create a public service campaign to help consumers understand how they can protect their wireless networks. Finally, Google must train and educate its employees about the importance of keeping users data confidential for the next 10 years.
When companies negotiate settlements, like the one in this case, it allows them to create unique agreements that work best for both parties. It also helps to keep litigation costs down and more quickly resolve the conflict. While negotiating a settlement may be in companies’ best interests, all companies should understand their legal options before agreeing to anything.
Source: WTVY, “Google Settles Lawsuit Over “Street View” Mapping Practices,” March 12, 2013