Judge Throws Out Lawsuit Challenging Google's Privacy Policy

Google has defeated a class-action lawsuit challenging changes made in 2012 to its privacy policy.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal in San Jose, Calif. ruled that the consumers who sued didn't outline how Google violated any laws by revising its privacy policy in March of last year. On Wednesday, Grewal dismissed the lawsuit without prejudice, meaning that the consumers can still revise their allegations and try again. Grewal gave them until mid-January to do so.

The lawsuit stems from Google's decision 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.

Google isn't collecting any additional data, or sharing information with outsiders. But 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 said in their lawsuit that Google broke its contract with them when it decided to stop keeping data segregated. But Grewal rejected that argument, ruling that Google's old privacy policy explicitly reserved the right to combine data about users. “In light of this express provision, it is not plausible to say that Google could be considered to have breached the contract,” he wrote in a 30-page opinion dismissing the lawsuit.

At this point, it's not clear whether the consumers will be able to proceed. But even if consumers can't revive their case, Google still faces fallout abroad from decision to combine data about users. Just last week, Dutch authorities said the search giant's privacy policy is illegal. Earlier this year, the French agency CNIL criticized Google for failing to adequately respond to complaints about its new policy. The U.K. Information Commissioner's Office also recently toldthe search company that its privacy policy doesn't give consumers enough information about how it will draw on data about users.




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