In re Google Inc. Cookie Placement Consumer Privacy Litig., 988 F. Supp. 2d 434, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 145727, 2013 WL 5582866 (D. Del. 2013)

On October 9, 2013, Delaware US District Court released a memorandum opinion dismissing charges against Google since plaintiffs did not demonstrate direct harm caused by the company’s actions.

In this case, plaintiffs filed a consolidated amended complaint against Google and other companies providing internet services accusing them of having “tricked” their browsers into accepting unauthorized cookies, which then allowed defendants to display targeted advertising.

The ruling analyzed several laws regarding electronic communications, including the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act, Stored Communications Act, The California Computer Crime Law, and The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, among others.

In not a single instance did the court find Google’s activities to be in violation of standing law with regard to the plaintiff’s allegations.

In fact, even if plaintiffs’ browsers were “tricked” into sending the URLs to Google, the court concluded that Google did not intercept contents as provided for by the Wiretap Act, or the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act, nor it exploited standard browser functions. The judges deemed that “although Google’s actions may be objectionable, Google did not access plaintiffs’ browsers by “overcom[ing] technical or code-based barriers.” Nor did Google introduce a “contaminant” to “usurp the normal operation” of plaintiffs’ browsers” that would have violated the California Computer Crime Law.

According to the court, Google’s actions did not constitute a “serious invasion of privacy”.

Furthermore, the court concluded that plaintiffs did not sufficiently alleged the threshold loss required by the CFAA. More generally, plaintiffs “have not sufficiently alleged damage or loss, nor were able to show “a loss of money or property from Google’s actions,”

The Delaware US District Court Memorandum Opinion is available at http://cdn2…Open Pdf