Google Seeks Dismissal Of Lawsuit Challenging Privacy Policy


Google and a group of consumers are gearing up for a courtroom showdown about recent changes to the company's privacy policy.

The latest policy, which went into effect in March, allows Google to aggregate data about signed-in users across a variety of platforms, including Android, Gmail and YouTube.

Google says that doing so allows it to target ads and search results more precisely by drawing on a broader pool of information about users than in the past. The company isn't collecting any additional data or sharing information with outsiders.

But the move to aggregate data triggered inquiries by Congress and attorneys general, as well as complaints by advocacy groups.

The move also resulted in potential class-action litigation by consumers, who allege that Google's new policy breaks promises that the company made in its previous policies. In the past, Google said that it would keep data collected for one purpose, like email, siloed from data collected for other purposes.

The consumers say that Google's new policy constitutes a breach of contract and violates the federal computer fraud law and wiretap law, among other statutes.

Last month, Google filed court papers asking U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Singh Grewal in the Northern District of California to dismiss the claims.

Google argues that the consumers lack "standing" to proceed in court because they haven't sufficiently alleged any economic harm. "There are no allegations anywhere in the complaint that any plaintiff has suffered any injury at all. None claims to have lost money. None claims to have changed services," Google argues.

The Web giant also denies that its new policy breaks prior promises to users, noting that it always retained the ability to change its privacy terms. "In plaintiffs’ view, Google has apparently promised them that Google will continue to provide to them, for free and forever, the full panoply of Google products, while also promising not to change or improve those services or the ways in which Google generates the income to pay for them," the company says. "Not surprisingly, Google has made no such promises."

The consumers filed papers on Monday opposing Google's request. "Google’s misuse of its customers’ data and invasion of its customers’ privacy interests and expectations runs afoul of numerous state and federal statutes and common law doctrines," they contend.

Grewal will address Google's arguments at a hearing on Oct. 9.



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