SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline) – A federal judge is criticizing the deal obtained by a lawyer in California in a lawsuit involving Google and email privacy issues.

The case was before the U.S. District Court in Northern California and involved a dispute between plaintiffs Daniel Matera and Susan Rashkis and Google. Attorney Michael Sobol has been representing a class of emails users who don’t use Gmail services but were still affected by the scanning of emails.

The plaintiffs sued the company over its scanning of emails as part of Google's targeted advertising program.

Judge Lucy Koh said the attorney for the plaintiffs did not win a fair settlement from the tech company.

"The notice to Class Members, which is the only form of disclosure that Class Members will receive under the settlement, is inadequate," Koh wrote March 16. "The notice does not clearly disclose that Google intercepts, scans, and analyzes the content of emails sent by non-Gmail users to Gmail users for the purpose of creating user profiles of the Gmail users to create targeted advertising for the Gmail user."

Koh also wrote that the settlement contains no determination on whether the scanning is lawful under the Wiretap Act. 

"(I)t is not clear to the Court at this time that the technical changes that the settlement provides brings Google into compliance with the Wiretap Act and CIPA, as Plaintiffs assert," Koh wrote.

The case was looking at whether Google violated the Wiretap Act when it scanned emails being received and sent for the purpose of creating targeted advertising. As part of the settlement Google agreed to stop scanning the emails that were in transition and instead wait until they were located in the inbox.

Koh also questioned whether plaintiffs attorneys are deserving of the proposed $2.2 million in fees.

"(T)he parties litigated only a motion to dismiss and a motion to stay before settlement. The parties have not taken any depositions in this case, and Google has only produced documents from prior litigation," she wrote.

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U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
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