Google is facing a class action lawsuit for, the plaintiffs say, selling your data.
The law firm that filed the case knows a bit about these kind of lawsuits. The firm, Bleichmar Fonti & Auld LLP has previously won settlements in the tens and hundreds of millions of dollars. The were part of the team that separated Volkswagen from $17 billion, so if I were Google, I would be at least a little concerned.
The case centers around how Google’s real time ad bidding process works.
Apparently, Google hands potential advertisers a whole portfolio of information about you like Google ID, IP address, cookie match, user agent, location, device ID, race, identity, health, divorce and other key ad match criteria.
In exchange, in those few milliseconds, the advertiser decides if they want to bid on an ad for you.
If they don’t, they get to keep your data. For free.
They can, apparently, aggregate that information and sell it. Companies like Venntel do just that.
You don’t ever have to make a bid, never mind win one.
Government agencies like ICE and Customs buy this data too.
Google, of course, says that this isn’t selling your data.
In a sense they are right.
If you are not the winning bidder, they are giving it away for free.
This case was just filed in March, so we are a long way from a decision, but maybe this law firm could separate Google from a few of those billions of dollars.
It will be interesting to see if Google changes the way bids work. They are damned either way. If they do, they are admitting to what they are accused of. If they don’t and they lose, it probably increases their liability.
Stay tuned and get y our popcorn out.