SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A federal judge said a woman is not entitled to compensation for time spent entering a single Captcha word to verify her identity when opening a Google email account.
U.S. District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley sternly dismissed Gabriela Rojas-Lozano’s class action, finding no evidence that Rojas-Lozano wouldn’t have opened a Gmail account if Google had disclosed that it profits from the second word in its two-word Captcha security feature.
Captcha is an acronym for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart,” and is a user identification tool used to prevent bots from infiltrating websites, search engines and other systems.
Rojas-Lozano filed her original lawsuit in Massachusetts in January 2015, and it was transferred to the Northern District in August 2015.
In essence, Rojas-Lozano claimed that the second part of Google’s two-part Captcha feature, which requires users to transcribe and type into a box a distorted image of words, letters or numbers before entering its site, is also used to transcribe words that a computer cannot read to assist with Google’s book digitization service. By not disclosing that, she argued, Google was getting free labor from its users.
Corley said Rojas-Lozano’s lawyer should have asked her whether she would have completed the reCaptcha had she known this.
“Such question, of course, should have been asked and answered before this lawsuit was filed and pursued in two states. Regardless, it defies common sense that the answer would be yes. For this reason, too, leave to amend is denied,” Corley wrote.
In increasingly peeved language, Corley broke down the problems with Rojas-Lozano’s complaint.
“Plaintiff fails to allege facts that plausibly support an inference of a duty to disclose,” she wrote. “First, plaintiff does not allege what representations she encountered when she signed up for Gmail; instead, she merely alleges that as a condition for signing up for Gmail, she had to respond to a reCaptcha prompt by typing two words. For this reason alone, her claim fails.”
She added, “Plaintiff has also not alleged that she suffered any damages as a result of the alleged misrepresentation. At best, she alleges that Google profited from her allegedly uninformed decision to complete the two-word reCaptcha. But Google’s profit is not plaintiff’s damage.”
Corley also took issue with Rojas-Lozano suing Google over what basically takes a few seconds to do in exchange for free email services.
“Google’s profit is not the only benefit the court considers in this balancing test-completing the prompt also entitles users to a free Gmail account. Moreover, users’ transcriptions increase the utility of other free Google services such as Google Maps or Google Books. Plaintiff has failed to allege how these numerous benefits outweigh the few seconds it takes to transcribe one word,” Corley wrote.
“As Google suggests, it strains credulity that plaintiff or class members would forego access to a free Gmail account and higher quality Google Books or Google Maps because their brief transcription of a single word might, indirectly or directly, facilitate Google’s profit earning.”
Attorneys Google and Rojas-Lozano did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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