Yahoo to Defend Massive Data Breach on Home Court

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 Daniel R. Stoller

Dec. 8 — Yahoo! Inc. will be defending multidistrict consumer data breach claims in its home territory in the federal trial court based in Silicon Valley ( In re Yahoo Customer Data Sec. Breach Litig. , J.P.M.L., No. No, 2752, transfer order 12/7/16 ).

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation assigned Judge Lucy Koh of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to hear the 14 consolidated consumer litigation suits from around the country. Koh has been viewed as a Silicon Valley stalwart, who has been able to navigate some of the trickier tech sector cases.

Getting the case in front of such an experienced and tech-savvy judge is an important development. Koh has handled large-scale litigation involving most of Silicon Valley’s well known tech Goliaths, including Alphabet Inc.'s Google, LinkedIn Corp. and Facebook Inc.

The Yahoo case stems from massive data breach that impacted over 500 million accounts. Yahoo, which reported the breach in September, had known about it as early as 2014. The breach also called into question a pending $4.8 billion merger between Verizon Communications Corp. and Yahoo.

Besides the multidistrict litigation, there are cases stemming from the Yahoo breach pending in state and international courts.

Queen of Silicon Valley

Koh, the first Korean-American district court judge, was nominated this year by President Barack Obama to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit after six years on the federal district bench. It is unlikely she’ll be confirmed by the current Congress, and it is unclear if she would be renominated by President-elect Donald Trump.

Among her many accomplishments on the bench, Koh has presided over countless internet privacy cases, such as trying to reconcile federal wiretap laws written in the landline-phone era with users’ concerns about how companies collect, use, store and eventually monetize consumer data. Lawyers and scholars have previously said that no other judge has broken so much ground in this area.

Koh has been overseeing a court battle between Google and teachers, students and other consumers who alleged the internet-search giant intercepted, scanned and processed e-mails sent or received from a student or faculty account to develop tailored profiles for commercial purposes and without consent. Google settled Nov. 29 with non-users affected by the alleged scanning and have previously settled with consumers on the matter.

Additionally, she has presided over some of the tech sector’s most influential cases including the two trials between Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics co. over smartphone patents. One of the Apple-Samsung cases, was recently remanded back to the U.S. Circuit Court for the Ninth Circuit for further litigation.

To contact the reporter on this story: Daniel R. Stoller in Washington at dStoller@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Donald Aplin at daplin@bna.com

Copyright © 2016 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Request Bloomberg Law Privacy and Data Security