Google Must Be Getting Sick of All These Class Action Lawsuits

As is typical in the case of widespread outrage, the people are fighting the man in a pair of new class action lawsuits over Google's new privacy policy.

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Google's controversial privacy policy continues to attract discontent. A pair of new class action lawsuits have been filed in the the U.S. District Courts in Northern California and Southern New York, both claiming that Google violated several federal laws by linking up its disparate privacy policies when, the plaintiffs say, the company said it wouldn't mix the data on the different accounts. (If you're not up to speed on the collective outrage over Google's new privacy policy, please read this, this and this.) In the order that the plaintiffs in California listed them -- and we're quoting a limited number of the many allegations in that case's paperwork here -- some of laws supposedly violated include:

  • Federal Wiretapping Act ("Google deceptively claimed that it would seek the consent of consumers before using their personal information for a purpose other than that for which it was collected.")
  • Stored Electronic Communications Act ("Google misrepresented the ability of consumers to exercise control over their personal information.")
  • Computer Fraud Abuse Act ("Google's new privacy policy deceptively claims that it does not sell personal information to advertisers when advertisers can, and in fact do, purchase targeting from Google that uses consumers' personal information and Google profits as a result.")

Exactly 29 days ago, another group of disgruntled Google users sued the search giant for willfully violating the above three acts by blocking third party cookies in the Apple-made Safari browser. After Google had already agreed to a $125 million settlement, plaintiffs fought for an amended settlement last year as part of the big Google Books class action case that invited authors and publishers whose work was available free on Google's pages to sue for damages -- that case is still ongoing. In 2010, Google was hit with a lawsuit over "WiFi snooping" and settled another class action case tied to Google Buzz privacy violations for $8.5 million. And who could forget the AdWords class action lawsuit which resulted in Google's coughing up a $20 million settlement in 2009.

The details of all these cases are pretty geeky, but you can see that there have been a lot of class action lawsuits against the company. In most cases, Google's legal team either pushes back against their angry users and gets the case thrown out of court (as was the case in the Google Books lawsuit) or they write a big check and move on. It's worth mentioning that Google is on probation with the Federal Trade Commission for anti-competitive practices for a few more years. The FTC audits the company once a year to make sure they're behaving.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.