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Google Faces Class-Action Lawsuit As UC Berkeley Students Sue Over Gmail Scanning

4 February 2016, 5:15 am EST By Horia Ungureanu Tech Times
A class-action lawsuit began in California, this time with Google as the defendant. UC Berkeley students accused the company of scanning their emails and using their private information for advertising purposes and they are demanding a hefty compensation.  ( Unsplash | Pixabay )

Google relies on advertising to push its search engine business forward, but sometimes its practices are less than honorable.

Four current and former students from the University of California, Berkeley pressed charges against Google in a federal suit.

The legal action was filed in San Jose, California, and the plaintiffs say that Google scanned their educational Gmail accounts.

The allegation is that the university-provided Gmail accounts were thoroughly analyzed by Google, which gathered analytics data based on the information it found. The legal action points out that the breach of confidentiality happened between November 2010 and March 2014.

In April 2014, Google said that it would stop scanning accounts affiliated with Google Apps for Education.

The recently started class-action lawsuit, "Corley et al v. Google," shows that invasion of privacy was Google's modus operandi nationwide. Students from other universities, such as Yale University and San Diego State University, joined the plaintiff ranks.

This means that tens of millions of current and former students across the country could join the list of plaintiffs.

The suit argues that Google was in direct violation of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. Furthermore, the approximated 30 million plaintiffs should receive "statutory damages" worth $10,000 each.

For more information about the class-action lawsuit, visit its official webpage.

Ray Gallo is the lawyer who represents the students in their action against Google. In the civil complaint, he explains the turn of events.

"Google has refused to delete previously-collected data and has refused to promise not to use previously-collected data for advertising purposes," Gallo's complaint reads.

It is not the only legal action that Gallo is involved in. In another case, he pleads on behalf of non-Gmail users who sent emails to Gmail users. In that particular complaint, Gallo aims to convince the court that Google should not scan or analyze data from users of other email services. This case, known as "Matera v. Google," is pending a verdict from Judge Lucy Koh.

Google refused to make any official comments on the recent legal actions that were declared against it.

How far do you believe the search engine's snooping should go? Tell us all about it in the comments section below.

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