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Google email scan lawsuit hits snag

by on28 February 2014

Huge hurdle for class action

A lawsuit against Google, for reading emails to tag adverts, might be prevented from becoming a class action.

US Judge Lucy Koh looking at the case said some plaintiffs accusing Google of improperly scanning their email faced a significant hurdle in their attempt to move forward with the lawsuit as a class action. If the plaintiffs can’t make the case a class action then it is largely pointless.

Litigation brought by nine plaintiffs, some Gmail users, some not, was consolidated by Koh last year. The plaintiffs maintain Google violated several laws, including federal anti-wiretapping statutes by systematically crossing the "creepy line" to read private email messages in order to profit.

Koh said plaintiff attorneys faced a "huge hurdle" to show that non-Gmail users were entitled to class action status. Google is claiming that that the identity of impacted non-Gmail users can only be ascertained by sending an email notice to all non-Gmail users whose addresses are on file in Google's systems, and then sifting through the responses.

It says that kind of procedure would be unprecedented and unworkable.

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