Google has been hit with a lawsuit over revelations that it exposed private data of Google+ users to third-party developers.
“This case involves the absolute and intentional disregard with which defendants have chosen to treat the Personal Information of users who utilize the Google+ social media platform,” California resident Matt Matic and Florida resident Zak Harris allege in a class-action complaint filed Monday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Both users say they use Gmail and Google+.
“While this information was supposed to be protected and shared only with expressed permissions, defendants, without authorization, exposed that information to third parties through lax and non-existent data safety and security policies and protocols," they allege.
The lawsuit includes a claim that Google violated California's consumer protection law by failing to honor a promise that it wouldn't disclose personal information without people's consent. The complaint also includes claims of negligence and invasion of privacy.
The case came the same day The Wall Street Journal reported that a glitch in Google's system allowed outside developers to access information about Google+ users' contacts. Google discovered the glitch and fixed it in March, but didn't publicly disclose it until this week. The Journal reported that Google delayed notifying people in hopes of avoiding bad publicity as well as scrutiny on Capitol Hill.
On Monday, Google said it plans to shut down the consumer version of Google+.
Matic and Harris allege that the type of data leaked by Google is “highly valuable to identity thieves,” because the information can “be used to gain access to a variety of existing accounts and websites.”
“The problems associated with identity theft are exacerbated by the fact that many identity thieves will wait years before attempting to use the personal information they have obtained,” they argue. “Indeed, in order to protect themselves, class members will need to remain vigilant against unauthorized data use for years and decades to come.”