Feeds

Gmail data-mining lawsuits fail to get class action status

Claims from schools, biz, individuals can't be borged – judge

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Google has made its job of defeating a series of lawsuits over the privacy of its Gmail service much easier now that the judge has agreed that the cases can't be combined into a class action lawsuit.

US District Judge Lucy Koh said that the claims from several sources that Gmail was scanning their messages to build up account profiles and target users with ads were too dissimilar to allow them to be added up into one single lawsuit.

Much of the problem lay in the different types of users that could be affected by Google's alleged privacy violators, including Gmail users, businesses schools and ISPs which use Google Apps and are on Gmail – and even those people who received email from Gmail accounts but don't have Gmail themselves.

Because different users received different levels of access to privacy policies and terms of service, it becomes difficult to figure out which of them weren't adequately informed of Google's practices if they were all in one lawsuit.

"The question of whether class members have consented to the alleged interceptions has been central to this case since its inception," Judge Koh wrote in her ruling. "Specifically, the issue of whether email users consented to the alleged interceptions was at issue in all rounds of briefing on motions to dismiss, all three rounds of briefing on class certification, and the briefing on the motion for leave to amend.

"The court finds that individual issues of consent are likely to predominate over any common issues, and that accordingly, class certification would be inappropriate."

The decision is a blow to the complainants in the separate cases as class action suits can ask for greater damages and therefore have more power to force a settlement because of the bigger risk of defending against them before a jury. Individual plaintiffs and smaller educational facilities and companies will also have a hard time coming up with the cash to pay for an expensive case against Google's gaggle of lawyers. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
'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
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
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.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.