CIPA SUNDAY: Google Wins On Motion to Dismiss CIPA Claim!

Hello all! Happy Sunday 😊 CIPA Sunday that is. It’s the Baroness here. I know it’s been sometime since I last blogged, but I’m back with some good stuff.

Let’s dive in.

Google recently faced a lawsuit in the Northern District of California, brought by Plaintiffs Marie Hammerling and Kay Jackson, who alleged several claims against the company, including a California Invasion of Privacy Act (CIPA) claim. The court granted Google’s motion to dismiss the CIPA claim, which is great news for the tech giant and the wider tech industry. Hammerling v. Google LLC, No. 21-CV-09004-CRB, 2022 WL 17365255, at *1 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 1, 2022).

CIPA is a California state law that governs the interception and disclosure of wire, electronic, or oral communications. In this case, Plaintiffs claimed that Google intercepted and disclosed their personal data through their use of third-party apps in violation of CIPA. However, the court found that Plaintiffs failed to state a CIPA claim against Google because the alleged interceptions and disclosure were not intercepted while “in transit” and did not occur in California.

First, Google argued that it was entitled to dismiss the CIPA claim because Plaintiffs did not plausibly plead that the contents were intercepted while “in transit.” Plaintiffs only alleged that Google collected “real-time data” about their use of third-party apps. But, the court found “real-time data need not be collected in real time, and Plaintiffs do not plausibly allege any mechanism that would allow Google to do so.”

Second, Google argued that it was entitled to dismiss the CIPA claim because the alleged interception and disclosure occurred outside of California, where CIPA does not apply. The court agreed with Google, stating that CIPA only applies to interceptions and disclosures that occur within California. Moreover, the court stated, “[t]he fact that Plaintiffs are out-of-state residents or that California law applies, [], has no bearing on whether the interception at issue took place in California.” Since Plaintiffs did not allege that the interception and disclosure took place in California, the court concluded that he failed to state a claim under CIPA.

This decision is a win for Google and the tech industry as a whole, as it limits the potential liability for tech companies in regards to privacy claims. Additionally, this decision provides guidance for tech companies facing similar claims in the future.


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