Google Facing Class Action Suit Over Ads in Private Email Messages

According to Reuters, a California judge recently allowed a class-action lawsuit to move forward against search engine giant Google regarding ads based on private email messages.  Google has been accused of violating numerous laws in their efforts to display targeted ads to users, including federal anti-wiretapping statutes.  The nine plaintiffs involved in the lawsuit claim that Google “crossed the creepy line,” reading their private emails in an effort to profit through targeted ads.

Most Californians are very aware of the ads which appear on their screens while browsing the web.  These contextual or targeted ads appear on Facebook, while surfing for information or products, and now even in emails.  While some browsers may not pay any attention to the ads, others notice they seem to be relevant to the topic they are searching on.  The plaintiffs in this case are concerned that their privacy is being invaded and personal information gathered.

Some of the individuals involved in the lawsuit use Gmail, Google’s email service, and others do not.  According to Google, users agreed to have email messages scanned in the terms of service agreement, however U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose determined that Google’s intent to use the information in private emails to target ads toward users was unclear in the terms.  In fact, Judge Koh wrote that “Nothing in the policies suggests that Google intercepts email communication in transit between users, and in fact, the policies obscure Google’s intent to engage in such interceptions.”

Matt Kallman, Google spokesman, said that the company is considering its options, and that they were disappointed in the judge’s decision.  Should Google be found guilty of the violations the company is accused of, they could face substantial penalties.

The Los Angeles business litigation attorneys at Spotora & Associates will be anxious to see how this case turns out, and if found guilty, what penalties Google will face.

This entry was posted on Thursday, October 3rd, 2013 at 10:18 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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