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Netflix Settlement Brings Privacy Changes, Lawyers Profit from $9M Payout

By Andrew Chow, Esq. | Last updated on

A Netflix settlement in a class-action lawsuit includes changes to the streaming movie company's privacy policy and a $9 million payout, the website Ars Technica reports.

Most of Netflix's 27 million U.S. subscribers, however, won't see a penny.

About $2.25 million of the Netflix settlement will pay for attorney's fees, while the two named plaintiffs in the class-action suit will split $30,000, according to Ars Technica.

So where will the rest of the money go?

The bulk of the Netflix settlement payout will be donated to charities selected by the parties and approved by the court, according to the settlement agreement approved by a federal judge in San Jose, Calif.

The charities must be nonprofits that deal with "issues relating to protection of privacy, identity, and personal information through user control, and to protect users from online threats," the settlement states.

In the class-action lawsuit, two former Netflix subscribers alleged the company retained their movie-viewing histories and then provided that data to third parties without consent, Atlanta's WXIA-TV reports.

Netflix will now stop that practice as part of the settlement. In technical terms, the company will "decouple," or separate, an ex-subscriber's viewing history from her personal data; however, this is only for those "who have not been a Netflix subscriber for at least 365 days, with some exceptions," according to an email sent Monday by the class-action lawsuit's organizers.

Under the terms of the Netflix settlement, current members, along with those who cancel and then resume their subscriptions within a year, will not have their viewing histories "decoupled." Netflix also denies it did anything wrong, according to the settlement.

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