Google Wins Cookie Battle


A judge dismissed a suit in which there were allegations that Google “violated computer users’ rights by slipping electronic “cookies” into their Web browsers to facilitate placement of advertising” and thereby Google ‘tricked Apple and Microsoft browsers into accepting cookies’ according to a report by Bloomberg.

On October 9, 2013 in the case In Re: Google Inc. Cookie Placement Consumer Privacy Litigation, US District Judge Sue Robinson granted Google’s motion to dismiss the class action suit among other things a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) which “is primarily a criminal statute, intended to protect against traditional computer hacking.” The Judge ruled that the plaintiffs did not prove the threshold damage of $5,000:

Plaintiffs have not alleged the kind of damage or loss required to maintain a CFAA claim.

More specifically, plaintiffs have not identified any impairment of the performance or functioning of their computers.

Generally, courts have rejected the contention that the unauthorized collection, use, or disclosure of personal information constitutes economic damages for the purposes of the CFAA.

In addition to violations of the CFAA the other legal claims were dismissed by Judge Robinson were violations of the:

  • Electronic Communications Privacy Act (“the Wiretap Act”)
  • California Invasion of Privacy Act
  • Stored Communications Act
  • California Computer Crime Law
  • California Constitution
  • California Unfair Competition Law
  • California Consumers Legal Remedies Act

Perhaps cookie litigation about search engines will surface again, but there will have be different allegations made to overcome the law created by this ruling by Judge Robinson.

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