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Federal judge rejects Google e-mail scanning settlement

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of California [official website] on Wednesday rejected [order] a settlement in a class action lawsuit between non-Gmail users and Google. The non-Gmail users contended that Google illegally scanned their e-mail correspondence with Gmail users for targeted advertising purposes in violation of the California Invasion of Privacy Act (CIPA) and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) [text]. The proposed settlement provided for an injunction, a release of the class's claims, and a request for $2.2 million in attorney's fees. Judge Lucy Koh rejected the proposed settlement because it fails to require Google to disclose the fact that they intercept, scan and analyze the content of e-mails from non-Gmail users. Additionally, the settlement was rejected on the grounds that it provided no authority proving that the proposed injunction would bring Google within compliance of CIPA or ECPA. Ultimately, the court was unable to conclude that the proposed settlement was fundamentally fair, adequate and reasonable as required by Rule 23 [text] of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governing class actions.

Google has faced numerous suits both in the US and internationally. In August the Korea Fair Trade Commission [official website], South Korea's antitrust regulator, confirmed [JURIST report] that the country is investigating whether Google violated the country's antitrust laws. In April Margrethe Vestagar [official profile], the Commissioner of Competition for the EU, opened a probe [JURIST report] allegations of unfair market dominance. In August 2015 the EU filed an antitrust claim [JURIST report] against Google claiming that the company structures its search results to favor its own services over those of rivals. In June 2015 privacy software company Disconnect [corporate website] filed antitrust charges [JURIST report] against Google with the European Commissioner. In January 2015 a representative for Google signed an agreement [JURIST report] to rewrite the company's current privacy policy in response to pressure from the UK Information Commissioner's Office [official website]. The same month Google was among four tech companies that reached a $415 million settlement [JURIST report] in a class action lawsuit claiming the companies unlawfully agreed to reduce employee compensation and mobility.

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