Google Wins Dismissal of Suit Over Co-Mingling User DataJoel Rosenblatt
U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal in San Jose, California, yesterday agreed with Google that the plaintiffs failed to claim any injury that could be clearly traced to Google’s actions. Grewal wrote in his order that the plaintiffs, who also claimed that Google disclosed the data to application developers and advertisers, can refile their claims.
“A plaintiff must do more than point to the dollars in a defendant’s pocket,” Grewal wrote in his order. For the suit to proceed, the plaintiffs must also demonstrate how Google’s use of the information “deprived the plaintiff of the information’s economic value,” the judge said.
The plaintiffs argue that Mountain View, California-based Google “made money using information about them for which they were provided no compensation beyond free access to Google’s services,” Grewal wrote. “An allegation that Google profited is not enough,” the judge wrote, and doesn’t meet the standard “that such profiteering deprived plaintiffs of economic value from that same information.”
James Sabella, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs, didn’t immediately return a call yesterday after regular business hours seeking comment on the ruling.
According to Grewal’s ruling, before March 1, 2012, Google maintained separate privacy policies for each of its products, each of them confirming that it wouldn’t use personal identification information of its users for other purposes without the user’s consent.
The plaintiffs in the case claimed the new policy violated previous policies because it no longer permitted users to keep information gathered from one Google product separate from data gathered from another.