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Google Wins Dismissal of Suit Over Web Browser Cookies

Google Inc. won dismissal of a lawsuit alleging it violated computer users’ rights by slipping electronic “cookies” into their Web browsers to facilitate placement of advertising.

Cookies are used to track browsing activity and can help advertisers target potential customers. The users claimed that Mountain View, California-based Google, owner of the world’s largest search engine, “tricked” their Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp. browsers into accepting cookies, according to court filings.

The consumers sued in federal court last year saying Google impinged on their privacy in violation of federal and state laws. The court rejected those claims.

“Google did not intercept contents as provided for by the Wiretap Act,” U.S. District Judge Sue L. Robinson in Wilmington, Delaware, said in her opinion. The users also didn’t “demonstrate that Google intercepted any ‘contents or meaning’” under California’s Invasion of Privacy Act, she said. Nor did the users identify “any impairment of the performance or functioning of their computers,” the judge wrote.

Stephen Grygiel, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, and Michael Rubin, a Google attorney, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on the decision.

The case is In re Google Cookie Placement Consumer Privacy Litigation, 12-md-02358, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

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