Beaumont man files class action against Google over cookies on Mac products

Michelle Keahey, East Texas Bureau Mar. 6, 2012, 6:44am


A Beaumont resident has filed a class action claiming Google inserted code into Google Ads that allowed Google to install tracking cookies on iPhones, iPads and Mac computers.

Joseph F. Clark, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, filed the class action against Google Inc. on March 2 in the Eastern District of Texas, Beaumont Division.

The suit alleges Google, without authorization, installs tracking cookies on the Apple products in order to harvest information about Internet searches.

Clark argues that Google intentionally intercepted these electronic communications and then intentionally disclosed that information to his and other class members' detriment.

According to the suit, the alleged actions were discovered in February when the Wall Street Journal reported that a Standford University researcher had discovered that Google was inserting code in the Google Ads in order to circumvent Apple's web browser's default privacy settings, which blocked third-party cookies. The article stated that Google placed the cookies on Apple devices in order to track their marketable browsing activity.

In the recently filed federal class action, Google is accused of violating the Federal Wiretap Act, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the Stored Electronics Communications Act.

According to the class action, Google's had provided browser instructions for Apple devices on its website that stated the browser's default setting would block all third-party cookies. Since the Wall Street Journal article, Google has removed these instructions from its webpage.

"Google admits that it used code designed to ascertain whether Apple Devices utilizing Safari were also signed into Google, and, as a result, tracking cookies could be and were placed on Safari web browser on Apple Devices," the lawsuit states.

The plaintiff is asking the court for an award of actual damages, Google's profits or the statutory minimum of $1,000 per person, punitive damages, attorney's fees and court costs.

Clark is represented by Richard L. Coffman of The Coffman Law Firm in Beaumont.

A jury trial is requested.

U.S. District Judge Ron Clark is assigned to the case.

Case No. 1:12-cv-00105

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