Feeds

Anti Gmail data-mining lawsuit hits possible stumbling block

Email content skimming claims may not qualify as class action, says Judge Lucy Koh

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

A US judge has thrown a bit of a spanner in the works of a lawsuit brought against Google for allegedly improperly mining data from emails for profit.

Judge Lucy Koh said in a hearing yesterday that the suit may be tough to pursue as a class action case, which allows plaintiffs to sue in a group and gives them a shot at a much larger settlement, Reuters reported.

The suit alleges that Google broke several laws, including federal anti-wiretapping legislation, by skimming sent and received emails it was fielding through its Google Apps for Education service "for multiple undisclosed purposes and for profit".

"Through Google Apps for Education, Google contracts with educational organisations throughout the United States to service email accounts for students, faculty, staff, alumni and members of these organisations. Google services these Google Apps EDU accounts with Gmail," the original complaint states.

"In contrast to regular Gmail users, however, Google does not serve targeted content-based advertising to Google Apps EDU users. Google nonetheless extracts the content and meaning from Plaintiffs' sent and received email messages and uses that content for various purposes and for profit."

The first complainants want to pursue the case as a class action representing not just Gmail users, but also non-Gmail users whose incoming emails were skimmed. The non-Gmail users are potentially crucial to the case since their inability to consent to Google's practices is part of the reason the case is going ahead.

Google has argued that the identity of any non-Gmail users can only be found out if someone goes through all the non-Gmail users whose addresses are on file in its systems and then sifts through the responses - a Sisyphean task that would be totally unworkable.

Koh has yet to issue a formal ruling on whether the case can move forward as a class action suit. ®

Application security programs and practises

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.