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Google Must Face Users Claiming Privacy Rift Over Ad Bidding (1)

June 14, 2022, 3:03 PMUpdated: June 14, 2022, 7:16 PM

Alphabet Inc.‘s Google must face a consumer privacy class action over its delivery of targeted advertising after the company failed to convince a federal judge to toss the lawsuit in California.

Consumers adequately alleged that Google didn’t make clear to them that their personal information was shared with bidders for ads, according to a Monday order on the company’s request to dismiss the suit in the US District Court for the Northern District of California.

The consumers are accusing Google of violating California and federal law. Under the court order, they can move forward with all but one of their claims, which was deemed duplicative of another allegation that Google breached its privacy promises to users.

The lawsuit takes aim at what’s known as real-time bidding, in which data collected on Google users is provided to participants in an auction for ad placement. The winning bidder gets to place an ad, while other bidders can still see the user data, even if they don’t make a bid, according to the complaint.

The data at issue includes information about a consumer’s browsing history, devices, and interests.

Google has defended its ad practices, saying that such information is routinely shared online.

“Privacy and transparency are core to how our ads services work,” a Google spokesperson said Tuesday in an email. The spokesperson added that the company’s policies prohibit personalized ads based on sensitive categories of information, including health data and race or religion.

Lawyers from Cooley LLP represent Google. The consumers are represented by lawyers from Pritzker Levine LLP, Simmons Hanly Conroy LLC, Bleichmar Fonti & Auld LLP, Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy LLP, DiCello Levitt Gutzler LLC, and Bottini & Bottini Inc.

The case is In re Google RTB Consumer Privacy Litig., N.D. Cal., No. 5:21-cv-2155, dismissal order 6/13/22.

(Updates with Google comment)

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrea Vittorio in Washington at avittorio@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jay-Anne B. Casuga at jcasuga@bloomberglaw.com; Tonia Moore at tmoore@bloombergindustry.com