Is Googling Yourself Risking Your Online Privacy?

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Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) has settled a class-action lawsuit related to so-called “vanity searches,” defined as when a person Googles his or her own name, thus causing users’ names to be leaked to third parties via referrer headers without the users’ knowledge or consent.

Google has been ordered to pay $8.5 million to several different charity organizations and schools — the World Privacy Forum; Carnegie-Mellon; Chicago-Kent College of Law Center for Information, Society, and Policy; Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University; Stanford Center for Internet and Society; MacArthur Foundation; and AARP Inc. The conditions of the settlement said the groups receiving the donations needed to be either public schools or related to protecting online privacy.