Google Legal maneuver against Identity Theft Risk Lawsuit Fails

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By J Maslow

Google Play phoneGoogle’s recent move to get a privacy lawsuit filed against it dismissed has failed in the San Jose US Federal District Court. The lawsuit alleges that the search engine giant has violated the privacy rights of the users of its electronic payment system, Google Wallet.

The suit claims that Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) breached users privacy rights by sharing users’ personal information with third-party/outside app developers. Judge Beth Labson Freeman tossed out two additional claims against Google but let stand the following causes of action: breach of contract, violation of the US Federal Stored Communications Act, and a violation of California consumer protection statute.

The lawsuit is still at its initial stages and it remains to be seen whether the claim will make it all the way to trial or if it will end in settlement. At this stage, the plaintiff, Illinois resident Alice Svenson, is asking the court for class action status. The lawsuit is asking for damages to the tune of $1000 per violation, punitive damages, and other available legal remedies.

In allowing the case to move forward, Judge Freeman said the affected Google Wallet users may try to prove that Google ‘frustrated’ the purpose of the company’s own privacy policy through the ‘blanket universal disclosure’ of users’ personal information to third parties. This is alleged to happen whenever consumers using Google Wallet use Google’s Play Store to buy third party apps.

Svenson states in her pleadings that Google sent her personal information to app developer YCDroid when she bought a $1.77 email app from that app developer. She claims that this information sharing boosts the risks of identity theft because the information shared includes email addresses, phone numbers, zip codes, and physical addresses.

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