Google: No Need to See Secrets

     SAN JOSE, Calif. (CN) – Attorneys for Google urged a federal judge to ignore demands made by news outlets to deny requests to seal documents in a massive – and settled – class action over Gmail privacy.
     News agencies – including Courthouse News, Gannett, McClatchy and the New York Times – lobbied U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh earlier this year to deny requests by Google and the lead plaintiffs to file under seal, citing public interest in the case involving millions of Gmail users. The sprawling class action dubbed In re Google Inc. – Gmail Litigation claimed that the tech giant’s new privacy policies violate federal computer fraud, eavesdropping and wiretap laws.
     The parties settled in late May, after the 9th Circuit refused to certify the class. The agreement became final last week when the last minor litigant in the case turned 18.
     But after the news outlets reminded Koh that they were still waiting for rulings on the requests to file under seal, attorneys for Google urged the judge not to bother in light of the settlement.
     “The self-styled media intervenors’ perceived need for public access to the information sought to be sealed is significantly diminished by the court’s denial of class certification with prejudice,” Google attorney Whitty Somvichian, of the firm Cooley LLP, wrote in an answer filed Thursday. “The media intervenors opposed the motions to seal on the basis that ‘the public interest cannot be overstated,’ in part, because ‘this case has the potential to affect the rights of the millions of class members.’ Now that the court has denied class certification with prejudice and each of the representative plaintiffs’ cases has been dismissed, the need for the ‘millions of class members’ to have access to Google’s confidential information is necessarily diminished. Moreover, the court – on its own initiative – redacted its order on class certification, strongly implying that the underlying documents on which that order relied contain sensitive confidential information that should be sealed.”
     A final case management conference has been set for July 30 in Koh’s courtroom.

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