Technology

Google has become a class action targeting

If you’re used to googling for the slightest issue, you might get a check from the web giant. The Supreme Court authorized a class action lawsuit against Google.

Judge Donald Bisson last month granted a motion submitted by Option consummators in June 2020 with the help of law firm Belleau Lapointe. A consumer rights association accuses a technology company of collecting information about Internet users without their consent. It will collect data even if users don’t have a Google account or select Private Browsing or Do Not Track. The same will be done on websites using Google Analytics or Google Ad Manager tools.

All people who have resided in Quebec since June 2017 and have viewed pages on Google platforms or a site using its tools are part of the class action. Option Consommateurs claims that these people will be compensated “in accordance with the value of the information collected by ⦋Google⦌” and is asking for $50 million in punitive damages. The amount of compensation, if any, will be determined at the end of the trial.

Without agreement

Several issues will be debated in court, including whether the multinational corporation collects data with or without the consent of Internet users. In its Privacy Policy, the first sentence states that “when you use ⦋his⦌ services, you trust ⦋him⦌ with your personal data.” Judge Bisson indicates in his decision that reading this policy is not required before using the California company’s tools and services. Consent is not requested before the collection of information.

The Google giant also mentions that it collects information even if users opt out. “Most websites and web services (including those owned by Google) do not change their behavior when they receive a Do Not Track request,” the Google Chrome Help Center says. According to the evidence presented, the judge believes that the web giant is also ignoring the possibility of private browsing.

Personal information or not?

What information does Google get about its users? The language they speak, their interests, where they live, the type of electronic devices they own, their web provider, their phone number, etc.

Is it personal data? Despite the first sentence of their Privacy Policy, Google says no as they do not identify a person. Judge Bisson, based on the Private Sector Privacy Act and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, disagrees. “⦋The information collected by Google⦌ clearly identifies an individual who is a member of the group, and the purpose is to offer him/her personalized advertising for him/her,” he writes.

Google provides its users with “recommendations, personalized content, and personalized search results,” according to its Privacy Policy.

To be notified of the next steps in this lawsuit, you can register on the Belleau Lapointe law firm website or subscribe to the Option consommateurs newsletter.

To better understand this type of process, read our article on how class actions work.

>> Read also: Class action lawsuits: You may be eligible for $20 if you have a floppy drive and Desjardins data leak: $1,000 for identity theft victims

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