- The Washington Times
Wednesday, June 15, 2022

A federal judge is allowing a class-action privacy lawsuit to proceed against Google, denying the tech giant’s effort to dismiss claims that it invaded people’s privacy.

U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers rejected Google’s request to dismiss the lawsuit’s allegations of breach of contract, privacy invasion and publication of private information. 

The plaintiffs, who are Google account holders, alleged that Google collected data from everyone using its services and then distributed and sold the information for targeted advertising through a real-time bidding (RTB) system. 

Judge Gonzalez Rogers’ order from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California this week said the plaintiffs have the standing to sue, and she wrote that the litigants successfully demonstrated the bidding process was not sufficiently disclosed to Google’s users.

“Specifically, plaintiffs allege that Google sells sensitive personal information such as plaintiff’s IP address, geo-location data, and web-browsing information, search terms, and sensitive websites that plaintiffs visited relating to race, religion, sexual orientation, and health,” Judge Gonzalez Rogers wrote. “Google argues that such information is routinely shared and thus cannot support a reasonable expectation of privacy. Not so.”

Google responded to the judge’s order in a statement insisting that its advertising business values people’s privacy. 

“Privacy and transparency are core to how our ads services work,” Google spokesman José Castañeda said in a statement. “We never sell people’s personal information, we have strict policies specifically prohibiting personalized ads based on sensitive categories of information, and sensitive user data like health, race, or religion is not shared with our partners.” 

Judge Gonzalez Rogers also granted Google’s request to dismiss the plaintiffs’ claim that Google breached an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. The judge wrote that the litigants did not adequately show Google acted in bad faith nor went beyond a breach of contract. 

The judge scheduled a videoconference to determine the next steps in the lawsuit for August. 

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

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