Gmail LawsuitThe overwhelming majority of a user privacy class action lawsuit filed against Google Inc. can continue, according to a recent U.S. District Court’s decision in California. The rationales cited in the decision could have significant ramifications for online privacy concerns moving forward.

In the consolidated case In re: Google Inc. Gmail Litigation (MDL No. 2430), Google is accused of intercepting users’ emails and content in order to create advertising profiles for Gmail users contrary to federal and state wiretapping statutes and doing the same thing with users who read or sent messages to owners of Gmail accounts. In alleging various exemptions from terms of user agreements to the definition of “the ordinary course of business,” the decision could open the doors for litigation against other online services companies.

Plaintiffs in the Google Gmail privacy class action lawsuit had argued that the reading or analysis of emails by Google software or employees was not necessary for the company to provide Gmail services. The court agreed, with the decision citing case law regarding what acts are permitted. While the provision of advertising is part of Google efforts, it is not connected to the company’s ability to provide email services. Even if they were, the judge cited failures in adherence to company policy in noting that the actions could not be pursuant to normal company business.

Specifically, the privacy policies that were issued beginning soon after Gmail’s launch allegedly did not contain any information regarding the company’s use of email content to derive its advertising to users according to allegations by class action attorneys. The Court reviewed the policies’ language and found no instances of Google expressly noting that it would engage in the recording of emails.

Even if were the policies more clear, several plaintiffs in the putative Gmail user privacy class action lawsuit were not Gmail users and Google could not reasonably allege that they had offered implied consent to have their emails recorded, according to the decision. Finally, even if the Gmail policies were adequate in notifying users that the company could access and maintain data for advertising purposes, the statement by Google that “advertisements may be targeted to the content of information stored on the Services, queries made through the Services or other information” only informs users that the information *could* be tracked.

Nor can Google argue that it is a utility since it does not own any physical property that aids in the provision of internet services in the states where plaintiffs reside, the Court said. However, the judge is requesting plaintiffs amend two sections of the class action lawsuit: one regarding the alleged confidentiality of the conversations and Pennsylvania state law regarding wiretap protections of senders and recipients of electronic communications.

The consolidated cases are In Re: Google Inc. Gmail Litigation, Case No. 13-md-02430, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California.

UPDATE: On Jan. 27, 2014, Judge Koh denied a motion by Google to have the Ninth Circuit review possible exemptions under the Wiretap Law that could derail the Gmail privacy class action lawsuit.

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Please note: Top Class Actions is not a settlement administrator or law firm. Top Class Actions is a legal news source that reports on class action lawsuits, class action settlements, drug injury lawsuits and product liability lawsuits. Top Class Actions does not process claims and we cannot advise you on the status of any class action settlement claim. You must contact the settlement administrator or your attorney for any updates regarding your claim status, claim form or questions about when payments are expected to be mailed out.

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16 Comments

  • COREY BUHS November 6, 2013

    I would like to be a part of this class action. could the class council email me please
    coreybuhs1@gmail.com

  • Tiffany Hardin November 6, 2013

    Please include me in the lawsuit

  • Deb November 7, 2013

    I would like to be included in this lawsuit.

  • Bill Merewhuader November 7, 2013

    I would like to be a part of this class action. could the class council email me please. merewhuader@gmail.com

  • Carolyn Grinston November 7, 2013

    Please include me.

  • Tina Mintz November 7, 2013

    Please include me.

  • Cody Thibault November 7, 2013

    Please include me.

  • Stephen Thibault November 7, 2013

    Please also include me

  • Robert Williams November 7, 2013

    please include me also….thx

  • Nelson November 7, 2013

    Please include me. EDITOR’S NOTE – PLEASE MAKE SURE TO JOIN THE FREE TOP CLASS ACTIONS NEWSLETTER TO BE UPDATED ON THIS LAWSUIT. STATING “PLEASE INCLUDE ME” AS A COMMENT WILL NOT GET YOU NOTIFIED OF CHANGES OR UPDATES. MAKE SURE TO SIGN UP FOR THE FREE NEWSLETTER ABOVE TO BE NOTIFIED OF CHANGES OR UPDATES.

  • anna marie petalino November 7, 2013

    Please include me and also my husband has his own.

  • Nabil Alhadi November 8, 2013

    Please include me as well. Thank you.

  • Diamond November 10, 2013

    I would like more information and to be included in this class action. Thanks

  • t tepper November 13, 2013

    teptom6901u@yahoo.com please include me in the suit

  • tenita galloway November 13, 2013

    please include me in the class action suit

  • M/ HALE November 14, 2013

    HELLO,
    I USE GMAIL FOR WORK AND PERSONAL AND HAD NO IDEA THEY WERE ACCESSING THE INFO IN MY EMAILS. THEY ARE CONFIDENTIAL REAL ESTATE TRANSACTIONS.
    PLEASE CONTACT ME AT YOUR CADENCE REGARDING THIS LAWSUIT…

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