Google Buzz Class Action Settled for $8.5 Million

Google plans to pay out an $8.5 million settlement as part of a privacy class action against its Gmail Buzz feature, the Internet giant said Tuesday. The funds will be applied toward an independent fund, designed to support organizations promoting privacy education and policy on the Internet.

Anyone looking to personally receive a portion of that settlement is out of luck. It does not include compensation for any of the millions of Gmail users, who comprise the settlement group. Folks, however, can opt out of this particular settlement group and strike out on their own -- providing they opt out before Dec. 6. Google (GOOG) posted information about the settlement and opting out on its site.

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The lawsuit arose from allegations that Google automatically enrolled Gmail users in Buzz when the social networking feature was added in February. The complaint specifically cites that Gmail users, via Buzz, had their email contacts publicly exposed as a social network, without their consent. Google, however, "denies the accuracy" of the claims.

The court, meanwhile, will hold a hearing Jan. 31 to consider approving the $8.5 million settlement.