CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT
12345678910111213141516171819202122232425262728Act of 2003, Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 22575
, the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act,Cal. Civ. Code § 1750
., the California False Advertising Law, Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17500
., the California Unfair Competition Law, Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200
., andcommon law.2.
Google, the largest search engine in the United States, has repeatedly touted thenumerous ways in which it protects user privacy, particularly with regard to the terms thatconsumers search for using the company’s search engine. Over protests from privacy advocates,however, Google has consistently and intentionally designed its services to ensure that user searchqueries, which often contain highly-sensitive and personally-identifiable information (“PII”), areroutinely transferred to marketers, data brokers, and sold and resold to countless other third parties.3.
The user search queries disclosed to third parties can contain, without limitation,users’ real names, street addresses, phone numbers, credit card numbers, social security numbers,financial account numbers and more, all of which increases the risk of identity theft. User searchqueries can also contain highly-personal and sensitive issues, such as confidential medicalinformation, racial or ethnic origins, political or religious beliefs or sexuality, which are often tied tothe user’s personal information.4.
In many instances, the information contained in disclosed search queries does notdirectly identify the Google user. Through the reidentification (explained below) or deanonymizingof data, however, the information contained in search queries can and, on information and belief, areassociated with the actual names of Google users. Computer science academics and privacy expertsare calling for the reexamination of privacy concerns in light of the growing practice and power of reidentification.5.
Google has acknowledged that search query information alone may reveal sensitivePII. And Google has demonstrated that it could easily stop disclosing search query information tothird parties, without disrupting the effectiveness of its service to its users, if it wished to do so. Butbecause the real-time transmission of user search queries increases Google’s profitability, it choosesnot to utilize the demonstrated technology that would prevent the disclosure of its users’ PII.