Privacy Faces its Greatest Challenge in the Digital Age
Today, much of our daily life is carried on through interactions in the digital world. We are in constant digital communication through texts, videos, photos, and audio. We maintain our personal relationships digitally through online social media and email. We do our banking digitally. We pay for things at the store digitally. We entertain ourselves digitally. And the digital world never blinks. There is a digital record of virtually every interaction we have with the world beyond our homes, and with the proliferation of so called “smart” devices, more and more often with what is going on inside our homes.
As a result, intrusions into our lives, whether on purpose or by accident, are inevitable, and the opportunity to share and profit from our most private and intimate personal information is unprecedented and nearly limitless. As our society reaps the benefits of technological innovation – smarter phones and appliances, savvier social media platforms, snappier apps, computing in the cloud – we must rise to the challenge to maintain traditional common law values of privacy and to protect our fundamental right to a private life.
Lawyers Dedicated to Preserving Privacy
Lieff Cabraser is committed to ensuring that the fundamental right to privacy is respected and endures even as technology evolves and society changes.
Our attorneys possess extensive experience and the requisite technological background to successfully assert and litigate a comprehensive range of privacy claims. We represent individuals in precedent-setting cases impacting tens and even hundreds of millions of Americans against prominent technology, social media, and entertainment companies for violations of digital privacy rights and the failure to protect critically-sensitive personal and employee data.
Significant Digital Privacy Lawsuits
- In a series of child online privacy lawsuits, Lieff Cabraser represents parents, individually and on behalf of their minor children, in federal class action litigation against numerous online gaming app developers, including Disney, Viacom, and the makers of the vastly popular Subway Surfers app, and their marketing partners. Plaintiffs allege that these companies violate state privacy protection laws by exporting, exploiting, and monetizing children’s personal information from mobile games without parental consent, in violation of long-standing privacy norms. Lieff Cabraser also works with the Office of the Attorney General for the State of New Mexico in federal litigation against a foreign developer of child-directed apps and its marketing partners. This lawsuit alleges that the defendants’ collection of children’s data without adequate disclosures and verified parental consent violates New Mexico state law and the federal Children’s Online Privacy Act (“COPPA”).
- Lieff Cabraser represents users of Google’s operating system and apps in litigation against Google for its surreptitious location tracking of millions of mobile device users. Google expressly represented to users that they could prevent the company from tracking and storing their location history by utilizing certain privacy settings on their devices. Plaintiffs allege that despite this representation, Google nonetheless collected data and stored their location data even when they attempted to protect this sensitive data by activating privacy settings on their devices.
- In our Google Street View case, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that federal privacy law applies to residential Wi-Fi networks. Following argument by Lieff Cabraser founding partner Elizabeth Cabraser, the holding was hailed as “a landmark decision for Internet privacy.” The Court rejected Google’s assertion that it could gather email messages, usernames, passwords, images, documents, and other personal information from individuals without their knowledge or authorization because data transmitted over a Wi-Fi network was a “radio communication” and was “readily accessible to the public.”
- Lieff Cabraser represents plaintiffs in litigation against Facebook for allegedly scanning and intercepting users’ private email messages on its social network. Ruling on a motion to dismiss argued by Lieff Cabraser partner Michael Sobol, Judge Phyllis Hamilton stated: “An electronic communications service provider cannot simply adopt any revenue-generating practice and deem it ‘ordinary’ by its own subjective standard.” In May, 2016, the Court certified a class of Facebook users for purposes of pursuing injunctive relief. Following extensive discovery regarding Facebook’s business practices, the Court granted final approval to a settlement of the action in August 2017.
- Lieff Cabraser represented plaintiffs in a digital privacy class action against Google over claims the Gmail service conducted unauthorized scanning of email messages to build marketing profiles and serve targeted ads without obtaining consent. The United States District Court for the Northern District of California granted final approval to a settlement of the action in February, 2018. Pursuant to the settlement, Google agreed that it will no longer scan the contents of emails sent to Gmail accounts for advertising purposes, whether during the transmission process or after the emails have been delivered to the Gmail user’s inbox.
- Lieff Cabraser serves as Plaintiffs’ Interim Co-Lead Counsel in class action litigation against Sony for its failure to take reasonable measures to secure the data of its employees from hacking and other attacks. In 2014, hackers stole the personally identifiable information of thousands of current and former Sony employees and their families (including Social Security Numbers, addresses, salaries and other employment information, and medical information), and published some of the information on the Internet. In April 2016, the Court approved a class settlement that provides for up to $4.5 million to reimburse class members for their losses, and also provides class members with two additional years of identity protection services.
- Lieff Cabraser serves on the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee in litigation against health insurance giant Anthem, Inc., for Anthem’s failure to implement and abide by standard security protocols, which resulted in a massive 2015 data breach involving identifiable personal information and health information belonging to more than 79 million of Anthem’s members. Because insurers like Anthem collect and store highly sensitive information as part of their business practices, they must ensure that such information is properly safeguarded and shielded from cybercriminals.
- Lieff Cabraser serves as Chair of the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee in consolidated class action litigation against Intuit arising out of its TurboTax service, used to file an estimated 30 million tax returns for American taxpayers every year. The complaint alleges that Intuit failed to take adequate precautions to prevent cybercriminals from filing thousands of fraudulent tax returns in the names of the plaintiffs and thousands of other individuals across America, including persons who never even purchased TurboTax.
- Lieff Cabraser served as plaintiffs’ counsel in class litigation against Samsung, LG, Motorola, HTC, and Carrier IQ alleging the smartphone manufacturers violated privacy laws by installing tracking software, called IQ Agent, on millions of cell phones and other mobile devices that use the Android operating system. Without notifying users or obtaining their consent, IQ Agent tracks users’ keystrokes, passwords, apps, text messages, photos, videos, and other personal information and transmits this data to cellular carriers. In 2016, the Court granted final approval of a $9 million settlement plus injunctive relief provisions.
- Lieff Cabraser serves as plaintiffs’ counsel in litigation against Internet advertiser Turn, Inc. related to its use of “zombie cookies” — mobile web tracking technology that users could not avoid, and that Turn could secretly revive if deleted by the user.
Right of Publicity and Data Security Lawsuits
The unauthorized use of one’s name and image for commercial purposes can be as harmful to an individual as covertly obtaining private and personal information.
Lieff Cabraser served as Court-appointed class counsel representing members of the professional social network LinkedIn in class action litigation challenging LinkedIn’s use of a service called Add Connections, and LinkedIn’s alleged failure to obtain its members’ consent to use their names and likenesses in Add Connection invitation emails to non-members.
Lieff Cabraser also represents consumers enrolled with health care providers that failed to take reasonable measures to secure social security numbers, medical records, and other personal, confidential data in their possession from hackers. Corporations and organizations that hold personally identifiable information, and, in particular, confidential personal health information, owe a duty to safeguard this information and protect such information from being compromised, stolen, or misused.
Please use the form below to contact a digital privacy attorney at Lieff Cabraser. You can also call us toll-free at 1 800 541-7358. There is no charge or obligation for our review of your case. The information you provide will help us hold companies accountable for their failures to properly secure and protect personal user information in every sphere of modern life.
Lieff Cabraser’s Cases in Digital Privacy
|Anthem Patient Data Breach||Failure to safeguard private medical data|
|Facebook Messages||Improper Scanning of private messages|
|Google Street View||Interception of private communications|
|TurboTax||Identity theft and tax fraud|
|Turn Web Tracking Software||Smartphone "zombie" cookies|
|VTech Child Data Breach||Failure to safeguard child data|
|Experian Data Breach||Failure to adequately safeguard personal/financial data|
|Marriott/Starwood Hotels||Data breach|
|Weather Channel App||Improper tracking|