US judge slams Google's $700M Play Store settlement as bad deal for consumers: 'Matter of basic math'

A federal judge joined critics in questioning Googles controversial $700 million settlement with all 50 US states over anticompetitive Android app store practices pointing out it would only provide small cash payouts to consumers and could protect the company from future lawsuits.

US District Judge James Donato described the Google deal, which would give as little as $2 per eligible user covered in the suit and also included a set of time-limited changes to its app store practices, as a bag of not great for the American public.

It looks to me just as a matter of basic math any single person isnt gonna be getting much, Donato said at a Monday hearing in California federal court, according to Bloomberg.

Donato, who has the final word over whether the proposed $700 million settlement can move forward, also harped on the fact that the agreement would essentially protect Google from facing additional lawsuits over its Play Store practices for seven years.

This seems remarkably broad for the compensation you are proposing to pay for these claims, Donato said.

Additionally, Donato questioned why the deals terms, which first surfaced in December, did not address Googles tactic of charging service fees of up to 30% on major developers within its Play store. The states lawsuit had argued the service fees result in higher prices and less choice for consumers.

Your agreement is telling these 127 million consumers that if they dont like Googles fees they cant sue? Donato reportedly told lawyers for the states.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge gave both Google and the states 30 days to explain why the deal should be approved.

The terms of Googles settlement with all 50 states and millions of US consumers first surfaced in December just days after the company suffered a stunning defeat in a related antitrust case raised by Fortnite maker Epic Games.

As part of the deal, Google contribute $630 million to a settlement fund for consumers who may have overpaid for apps as a result of its Play store practices. The remaining $70 million will go toward covering legal fees and penalties in individual states.

A Google spokesman declined to comment on the judge’s remarks and referred to the company’s blog post on the settlement last December.

“We’re pleased to reach an agreement that builds on that foundation and we look forward to making these improvements that will help evolve Android and Google Play for the benefit of millions of developers and billions of people around the world,” the company said at the time.

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney was one of the most vocal critics of the settlement describing the terms as an injustice to all Android users and developers and arguing the states could have successfully secured billions in damages had they taken the case to trial.

Donato, the presiding judge in both the Epic Games case and the states case, has been sharply critical of Googles tactics a trend that could haunt the company as both legal battles enter their final stages.

In December, Donato made headlines by publicly blasting Google for what he described as a disturbing effort to destroy key evidence it was ordered to preserve, including employee chat logs, during the Epic Games case.

Donato said he had never seen anything so egregious after viewing disturbing evidence that Google had used an auto-erase feature to delete the internal conversations.

While Google has denied wrongdoing, Donato said the companyswillful and intentional suppression of relevant evidence in this case is deeply troubling to me as an officer of the court.

This conduct is a frontal assault on the fair administration of justice. It undercuts due process. It calls into question just resolution of legal disputes. It is antithetical to our system, the judge added.

Donato said Google would face penalties that would be separate from any final rulings in the Epic case, where the judge is set to determine which business practices Google must discontinue after a jury found it was maintaining an illegal monopoly through its Play Store.