User Drops Case Accusing Google Of Snooping With Toolbar

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A New York resident who filed a potential class-action lawsuit against Google for allegedly snooping on his Web activity with its toolbar has dropped his case, according to court records.

The lawsuit, originally filed by Jason Weber in November of 2010, alleged that Google collected and transmitted the URLs of the Web sites visited by users who had downloaded the toolbar and activated its enhanced features. In addition, Weber asserted, Google sometimes transmitted that information even when users took steps to prevent that from happening.

It wasn't clear from the court papers why Weber dropped the case, or whether there had been a settlement. Weber's attorney, Scott Kamber, said only that his client was "satisfied that no further litigation is warranted."

A Google spokesperson did not offer any further information.

He alleged that Google violated federal computer fraud and wiretap laws. Questions about the toolbar's opt-out function were first raised in January of 2010 by Harvard Business School assistant professor Ben Edelman.

Google said at the time that the tracking was the accidental result of a bug, and that it only affected a small number of Internet Explorer users -- those who enabled the toolbar's enhanced features and then disabled the toolbar but didn't uninstall it. Even those users were able to avoid the glitch simply by restarting their browsers.

Google argued in court papers that Weber's lawsuit should be dismissed for several reasons, including because he didn't show that he was affected by the glitch. In addition, Google argued, Weber did not adequately make out a case for a violation of either the federal wiretap law or computer fraud law.

"Even under Plaintiff's allegations, users knowingly installed toolbar, were given notice of the types of information that would be collected, and affirmatively enabled toolbar's enhanced features,” Google argued. “Plaintiff does not allege the most basic facts necessary to establish the key elements of these two claims: that Google either employed an interception device to intercept plaintiff's communications or that Google accessed plaintiff’s computer without authorization.”

Weber dropped the case late last month, before a judge ruled on the key issues.

Tags: google, legal, privacy
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