Feeds

Anti Gmail data-mining lawsuit hits possible stumbling block

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

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

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. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.