Google’s Universal Privacy Policy Class Action Lawsuit Dismissed

Judge's gavel

A lawsuit against Google over their universal privacy policy has been dismissed by a California judge.

Plaintiffs sought damages from Google, arguing the search and social giant “made money using information about them for which they were provided no compensation beyond free access to Google’s services,” according to U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal’s order.

“A plaintiff must do more than point to the dollars in a defendant’s pocket,” Grewal wrote, noting that plaintiffs failed to demonstrate how Google’s use of their information deprived them of its economic value.

Basically, they did not prove their information had some value that Google stripped from them and the case will not move forward.

European regulators, U.S. Attorneys General and privacy groups including EPIC tried and failed to stop the implementation of Google’s new privacy policy early in 2012, though it went forward without a hitch on March 1, 2012.

Their concerns over Google’s co-mingling of user data across all services were dismissed by Google at the time, who wrote in response to Europe’s Commission Nationale de L’informatique et Des Libertes (CNIL): 

“We are confident that our new simple, clear and transparent privacy policy respects all European data protection laws and principles. We have notified over 350 million authenticated Google users and provided highly visible notifications on our home page and in search results for our non-authenticated users. To pause now would cause a great deal of confusion for users.”

According to the ruling, eight plaintiffs brought the class action suit against Google “on behalf of all persons and entities in the United States who acquired a Google account between August 19, 2004 and February 29, 2012 and maintained such an account until on or after March 1, 2012.”

The suit alleged violations of the Wiretap Act, California’s Right of Publicity Statute, California’s Unfair Competition Law, and others, including breach of contract and commercial misappropriation.

Grewal found that “…Plaintiffs cannot articulate some actual or imminent injury in fact. It is just that at this point they haven’t offered a coherent and factually supported theory of what that injury might be.”

He also found that plaintiffs failed to explain how their name, voice, signature, photograph or likeness was used by Google without their consent.

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