Yahoo! Mail Class Action Lawsuit Forthcoming, Judge Rules

Yahoo! Mail users since 2011 will be able to join a class-action lawsuit, a California judge has determined.

According to the Express, Yahoo! Mail users may have been subject to Yahoo! Mail personnel gaining information from individual emails to be used for advertising purposes. United States District Judge Lucy Koh, on the bench in San Jose, California, determined as much this week. Koh ruled that people who sent mail to Yahoo! Mail subscribers and those who received mail from Yahoo! Mail subscribers, since October 2, 2011, can sue as a group under the Federal Stored Communications Act for possible privacy violations.

Yahoo! Mail has been accused of scanning emails sent to Yahoo! Mail subscribers in an effort to glean information to better target advertising towards its 275 million Yahoo! Mail subscribers.

Non-Yahoo! Mail users are making a similar claim, which include keywords and attachments, for similar advertising purposes, in addition to look for malware or spam.

Last year, 80 percent of Yahoo! Mail’s profits came from its search and display advertising. Now, Yahoo! may be facing a class-action lawsuit because litigants can collect larger sums of awards at a lower cost. However, the more litigants, the smaller the amount each litigant will receive.

The Huffington Post is reporting that litigants are requesting an injunction halting the practice, as well as damages because of the practice.

Yahoo! spokesperson Rebecca Neufeld told reporters that Yahoo! could not comment on pending legal issues.

Judge Koh rejected Yahoo’s argument that people sending emails to Yahoo! Mail subscribers implied consent by sending the emails, even after the non-Yahoo! Mail subscribers learned of Yahoo! Mail’s practices. Koh also rejected Yahoo’s claim that the injuries were too disparate to be considered for a class-action lawsuit.

Judge Koh differentiated between the Yahoo! Mail case and a case against Google she heard back in March 2014. In that case, Judge Koh said it was more difficult to determine who consented and who did not, whereas Yahoo! Mail simply assumed all users fell under a blanket agreement whereby using the service was implying consent.

“Yahoo may have to, as a practical matter, adjust its scanning practices on an individual basis,” Koh wrote. “That does not, however, change the fact that plaintiffs seek uniform relief from a common policy that Yahoo applies to all class members.”

Daniel Girard, the plaintiff’s attorney, declined comment. The forthcoming lawsuit will affect only Yahoo! Mail subscribers in the United States. Subscribers outside the United States have no recourse.

[Image courtesy of Talk Android]