Can Google be Sued Under the Wiretap Act?

October 19th, 2016 by Rieders Travis in Business and Corporations

Can Google be Sued Under the Wiretap Act?

Google essentially cannot be sued under the Federal Wiretap Act.  There has to be an intentional interception or attempting to intercept the contents of an electronic communication using a device.  Companies who have placed cookies on computing devices are like one party communications, meaning that the parties are not liable under the Wiretap Act.  The Stored Communications Act prevents potential intrusions on individual privacy arising from illicit acts as to stored communications in remote computing operations and large databanks that store emails.  This Act is violated when a person intentionally accesses without authorization a facility through which an electronic communication service is provided or intentionally exceeds an authorization to access that facility and thereby obtains, alters or prevents authorized access to a wire or electronic communication while it is in the electronic storage in such system.  Google would not fall under this either.  Personal computing devices are not protecting facilities under the statute, finds the court.  The Video Privacy Protection Act is also said not to apply.  It creates a private cause of action for plaintiffs to sue persons who disclose information about their video-watching habits. The Act, says the court, is not well drafted and this helps Google.  Google is not an appropriate defendant when it comes to garnering information about kids who watch Nickelodeon.  The Supreme Court has not ruled on this.  A few other circuits have gone this way, however.  In re Nickelodeon Consumer Privacy Litigation, 827 F.3d 262 (3rd Cir. 2016).

Attorney Cliff Rieders

Attorney Cliff RiedersCliff Rieders is a Nationally Board Certified Trial Lawyer practicing personal injury law. A large part of his practice involves multi-district litigation, including cases related to pharmaceuticals, vitamin supplements and medical devices. He is admitted in several state and federal courts, as well as the Supreme Court of the United States. Rieders is the past regional president of the Federal Bar Association and is a life member of the distinguished American Law Institute, which promulgates proposed rules adopted by many state courts. He is a past president of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, formerly Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association. As a founder of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority, he served on the Board for 15 years.

Not only has Rieders held many highly esteemed, leadership positions, he authored legislation related to the Patient Safety Authority and the Mcare Act, which governs medical and hospital liability actions in Pennsylvania. He authored texts upon which both practitioners and judges rely, including Pennsylvania Malpractice Laws and Forms, and Financial Responsibility Law Issues in Pennsylvania, the latter governing auto and truck collisions in Pennsylvania. In addition, he wrote several books on the practice of law in Pennsylvania regarding wrongful death and survivor actions, insurance bad faith, legal malpractice claims and worker rights, among others. Rieders also serves as a resource to practitioners as a regular speaker for Celesq, an arm of the world’s largest legal publisher, Thomson Reuters West Publishing.

As recognition of his wide range of contribution to his profession and of his dedication to protecting the rights of his clients, he received numerous awards, among them the George F. Douglas Amicus Curiae Award, the Milton D. Rosenberg Award, the B’nai B’rith Justice Award, and awards of recognition from the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers. [ Attorney Bio ]



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