Hoey v Google complaint


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Over Google's integration of its privacy policies
  IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTFOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA RYAN HOEY, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated,No: CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT Plaintiffs,-against- JURY TRIAL DEMANDED GOOGLE, INC.,Defendant.Plaintiff Ryan Hoey (“Plaintiff”), by and through his attorneys, brings this classaction complaint on his own behalf and on behalf of all others similarly situated, to obtainan injunction, damages, costs of suit, and attorneys’ fees from defendant Google, Inc.(“Google”). Plaintiff complains and alleges, upon knowledge as to himself and his acts,and upon information and belief as to all other matters, as follows: NATURE OF THE ACTION  1.   This is a nationwide class action against Google on behalf of all personsand entities in the United States (or, alternatively, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania)that maintained a Google account from August 19, 2004 to February 29, 2012, andcontinued to maintain that Google account on or after March 1, 2012, when Google’snew privacy policy went into effect (the “Class”).2.   Plaintiff also brings this nationwide class action against Google on behalf of a subclass of persons and entities in the United States (or, alternatively, in theCommonwealth of Pennsylvania) that owned a device powered by Android from August19, 2004 to February 29, 2012, and continued to own that device on or after March 1,2012 (the “Android Subclass”). Case 2:12-cv-01448-MAM Document 1 Filed 03/22/12 Page 1 of 37  23.   Google is a technology company that provides free web products toconsumers, including its widely used web-based email service, Gmail, which has beenavailable since 2004 and allows consumers to send and receive emails, chat with otherconsumers through Google Chat (Google’s instant messaging service), and store emailmessages, contact lists, calendar entries, and other information on Google’s servers.4.   Google also offers consumers Google+, a social network where consumerscan set up a profile and share text, links, photos and videos with friends through a varietyof Google products, such as Google Reader (which allows consumers to subscribe to,read, and share content), Google Blogger (Google’s weblog publishing tool that allowsconsumers to share text, photos, and video), and Picasa (which allows consumers to edit,post, and share digital photos).5.   In addition, Google provides a variety of other products, including itswell-known and globally utilized Google search engine (Google.com), as well asYouTube (where consumers can stream videos of interest to them); Google Docs (whereconsumers can create and edit documents online while collaborating in real-time withother consumers); and Google Maps (where consumers can view satellite images of locations all over the world, plan routes for traveling by foot, car, or public transport, andwhich has a GPS-like service that tracks the consumer’s location).6.   Different Google products log and keep track of different informationabout the consumer. Among the information about consumers that is collected throughGoogle’s products and services is the consumer’s first and last name; the consumer’shome or other physical address (including street name and city or town); the consumer’scurrent, physical location; the consumer’s email address or other online contactinformation (such as a consumer’s identifier or screen name); the consumer’s IP address; Case 2:12-cv-01448-MAM Document 1 Filed 03/22/12 Page 2 of 37  3the consumer’s telephone number (including home and mobile telephone numbers); theconsumer’s list of contacts; the consumer’s search history from Google’s search engine;the consumer’s web surfing history from cookies Google places on consumers’computers; and all of the consumer’s posts in Google+.7.   Although Google always had access to all of this information, theinformation collected in one Google product was not previously commingled withinformation collected during the consumer’s use of other Google products. Thus, Googledid not previously tie a consumer’s Gmail account (and therefore his or her name andidentity) to the credit card, banking, and brokerage websites that the consumer visited. Inaddition, if a consumer had a Gmail account, the content of the consumer’s Gmailcommunications would not be used by Google to optimize search results when thatconsumer used Google’s search engine.8.   On March 1, 2012, however, Google announced that it had changed itsprivacy policy. As stated by Google, “The main change is for consumers with GoogleAccounts…. Our new Privacy Policy makes clear that, if you’re signed in, we maycombine information you’ve provided from one service with information from otherservices. In short, we’ll treat you as a single user across all our products, which willmean a simpler, more intuitive Google experience.”9.   Thus, Google’s New Privacy Policy does not allow consumers to keepinformation about a consumer on one Google service separate from information gatheredabout the consumer by other Google services.10.   This change violates Google’s prior privacy policies, which deceived andmisled consumers by stating that Google would not utilize information provided by a Case 2:12-cv-01448-MAM Document 1 Filed 03/22/12 Page 3 of 37  4consumer in connection with his or her use of one service, with any other service, for anyreason, without the consumer’s consent.11.   It also violates consumers’ privacy rights, allowing Google to takeinformation from a consumer’s Gmail account and Google+ account, which may haveone expectation of privacy, and use it in a different context, such as to personalize resultsfrom the Google search engine, or to personalize advertisements viewed while theconsumer is surfing the Internet, in which a consumer has an entirely differentexpectation of privacy.12.   Similar cross-referencing of billions of consumers’ personal informationpreviously resulted in an October 13, 2011 Consent Order with the Federal TradeCommission (“FTC”), in which the FTC found that Google deceptively claimed it wouldseek the consent of consumers before using their information for a purpose other than forwhich it was collected, and that Google had misrepresented consumers’ ability toexercise control over their information. In announcing the Consent Order, Jon Leibowitz,Chairman of the FTC, stated, “when companies make privacy pledges, they need to honorthem.”13.   Here, billions of consumers across the globe are affected by Google’s newprivacy policy. Google’s products and services have become a staple of society and arethe base systems used by many third parties, such as operating systems for cell phonemanufacturers, and onsite search engines to power onsite search for third party publisherssuch as The New York Times.14.   For example, Google’s Android operating system has been incorporatedinto cell phones built by multiple companies, including Motorola, LG, HTC, andSamsung. Case 2:12-cv-01448-MAM Document 1 Filed 03/22/12 Page 4 of 37
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