Google Buzz class action transferred from New York to California

By Kyla Asbury | Mar 3, 2014

SAN JOSE, Calif. (Legal Newsline) - A class action lawsuit against Google regarding Google Buzz has been transferred from New York to California.

The lawsuit was originally filed on Jan. 8, 2013, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York and was transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Feb. 10.

Albert Rudgayzer, Michael Amalfitano and Lillian Ganci claim Google Buzz was launched on Feb. 9, 2010, and Gmail users who signed into their Gmail accounts on that day were taken to a screen that announced Google Buzz and highlighted its features.

Google did not disclose that even if users chose not to check out Google Buzz, they still had information made publicly available and that those lists might later be posted on a user's public Google profile, exposing the list of people with whom a user chatted or emailed most often, according to the suit.

"In addition to publicizing lists of followers, Google Buzz searched for and acquired pictures, video, text and other data that users had posted to websites, such as Picasa and YouTube," the complaint states.

The plaintiffs claim Google Buzz automatically sent those posts to the email accounts of the users' frequent email contacts without the users' knowledge or authorization.

The option to turn off Google Buzz was in small type at the bottom of the Gmail home page after login, the plaintiffs say. However, clicking that link only removed the Buzz tab from the user's Gmail page and users continued to appear as a "follower" on the Google profiles and Google Buzz pages of the people whom they e-mailed the most, according to the suit.

The plaintiffs claim by sharing users' follower/following lists with the users' followers and making follower/following lists publicly searchable on the Internet, Google knowingly divulged the contents of communications while those communications were in electronic storage, in violation of the Stores Communications Act.

The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages. They are being represented by Todd C. Bank of the Law Office of Todd C. Bank.

Google is being represented by Rebecca S. Engrav, Susan D. Fahringer and Dennis C. Hopkins of Perkins Coie LLP.

The case has been assigned to District Judge Paul Singh Grewal.

Google is currently facing two privacy cases in California federal court, one for allegedly scanning private emails for information and another for intercepting wireless Internet connections while gathering information for the Street View mapping service.

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California case number: 5:14-cv-00673

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