Class Action Lawsuits Filed in Response to Changes to Google's Privacy Policy

Two class-action lawsuits were filed on March 20, 2012, in response to changes to Google's privacy policies, which took effect March 1, 2012. David Nisenbaum, et al. v. Google, Inc., was filed in the Southern District of New York and Robert De Mars, et al. v. Google, Inc.

The plaintiff seek damages and claim violations of The Federal Wiretap Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2511; The Stored Electronic Communications Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2701; The Computer Fraud Abuse Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1030, as well as various state and common law claims.

Previously the personal information collected in one Google product was not commingled with information collected during the consumer's use of other Google products. Thus, Google did not previously tie a consumer's Gmail account to the credit card, banking, and brokerage websites that the consumer visited. Additionally, if a consumer had a Gmail account, the content of the consumer's communications would not be used by Google to optimize search results when that consumer used Google's search engine.

The new privacy policy, however, does not allow consumers to keep information about a consumer on one Google service separate from information gathered about the consumer by another Google service.

The Plaintiffs claim that Google's new privacy policy is nothing more than Google's effort to garner a larger market share of advertising revenue by offering targeted advertising capabilities that compete with or surpass those offered by social networks, such as Facebook, where all of a consumer's personal information is available in one site.

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