Privacy Concerns

Google Wins Dismissal of Android Privacy Lawsuit

Google Wins Dismissal of Android Privacy Lawsuit
Image credit: Robert Scoble | Flickr

Google Inc won the dismissal of a lawsuit by Android users who said the company violated its own privacy policy by disclosing their names, email addresses and account locations to third parties without permission, to boost advertising revenue.

In a Wednesday night decision, U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal in San Jose, California, said the users failed to show that Google transmitted their own personal data or that they would suffer economic harm if it occurred.

Last July, Grewal had let the plaintiffs pursue breach of contract and fraud claims, assuming they showed that the data-sharing caused economic harm by depleting their battery power and bandwidth.

But the judge said the plaintiffs abandoned that argument in their amended complaint filed in February. As a result, he said the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue, having "managed something somewhat unusual: they pled themselves out of a case."

He added: "With no allegation of dissemination or improper receipt of information, any profit or loss made from any alleged disclosure, let alone a potential disclosure, is conjectural."

Google said $15.51 billion, or 90 percent, of its $17.26 billion of first-quarter revenue came from advertising.

Mark Gardy and Joseph Sabella, lawyers for the plaintiffs, did not immediately respond on Thursday to requests for comment.

Google did not immediately respond to a similar request. The Mountain View, California-based company also operates its namesake Internet search engine.

Plaintiffs Robert DeMars of California, Michael Goldberg of Ohio and Scott McCullough of New Jersey pursued their nationwide class action on behalf of consumers who bought Android apps through the Android Market or Google Play Store between February 2009 and May 2014.

Grewal said it would unfairly prejudice Google to let the plaintiffs amend their lawsuit again.

"You might think that after three years of complaints, motions to dismiss, orders on motions to dismiss, leave to amend, amended complaints and more, at least the fundamental question of plaintiffs' Article III standing to pursue this suit would be settled," he wrote, referring to part of the U.S. Constitution. "You might think that, but you would be wrong."

The case is In re: Google Inc Privacy Policy Litigation, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 12-01382.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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