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).