Bloomberg Law: Privacy & Data Security brings you single-source access to the expertise of Bloomberg Law’s privacy and data security editorial team, contributing practitioners,...
By Jimmy H. Koo
A group of Alphabet Inc.'s Google consumers failed to convince Judge Lucy H. Koh to approve a proposed settlement of class claims over the company’s non-consensual scanning and storing of non-user emails for advertising purposes ( Matera v. Google, Inc. , 2017 BL 81418, N.D. Cal., No. 15-cv-04062, 3/16/17 ).
The notice of settlement is “difficult to understand” and “does not clearly disclose what technical changes the settlement requires,” Koh, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, ruled March 15. The move to reject a settlement proposal, particularly by a judge whose courtroom hosts such Silicon Valley tech giants as Facebook Inc. and Apple Inc., may not bode well for those seeking a way to more easily resolve consumer class actions.
The plaintiffs’ bid for settlement would have enjoined Google from email scanning without consent, released all class claims and paid $2.2 million in attorneys’ fees. But the parties didn’t provide authority explaining why the proposed injunction would bring Google into compliance with the federal Wiretap Act or the California Invasion of Privacy Act, Koh said.
Google declined Bloomberg BNA’s requests for comment.
Jay Edelson, partner and founder of plaintiff-side class action law firm Edelson PC in Chicago, told Bloomberg BNA March 16 that he is “encouraged that Judge Koh is carefully scrutinizing the deal to make sure it benefits the class.” Injunction-only privacy settlements “where significant damages were originally being sought should be the exception, rather than the norm,” he said.
Injunction-only settlements “are being over-utilized, which will lead to criticism that the settlements benefit the attorneys more than their clients,” Edelson said.
According to the plaintiffs’ amended class complaint, Google didn’t have a policy of obtaining non-users’ consent or notifying nonusers about its email scanning practice. In settling the allegations, Google agreed in December 2016 to eliminate the processing of private emails for advertising purposes prior to inbox delivery.
Although the settlement doesn’t include a monetary award, it doesn’t bar individual plaintiffs from seeking monetary damages in separate claims.
Rejecting the proposed settlement, Koh said the court couldn’t conclude that the settlement is fundamentally fair, adequate and reasonable.
Cooley LLP represents Google. Gallo LLP, Carney Bates & Pulliam PLLC and Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP represent the putative class.
To contact the reporter on this story: Jimmy H. Koo in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Donald Aplin at firstname.lastname@example.org
Full text of the order is available at http://www.bloomberglaw.com/public/document/Matera_v_Google_Inc_No_15CV04062LHK_2017_BL_81418_ND_Cal_Mar_15_2.
Copyright © 2017 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)