Sloppy class action against Google Buzz dismissed

The Jerusalem District Court dismissed a 5 billion NIS (roughly $1.4 billion) class action against Google Israel Ltd. and Google Inc.
The class action was filed a year ago by a Gmail user, following Google's launch of the new Google Buzz social networking service. The action claimed that Google violated users' privacy, because Google automatically added Google Buzz to Gmail accounts, and by default Google Buzz allowed users to track their contacts' status updates and additional information that the contacts shared online, without asking for their consent.
Soon after the action was filed, Petitioner acknowledged that Google Israel is not involved in providing or administering the Gmail and Google Buzz services. Accordingly, upon a joint request of the parties, the court dismissed the case against Google Israel.
Petitioner filed a motion to serve the claim against Google Inc. outside of Israel, and based its request on breach of contract -- i.e., Google Inc.'s alleged breach of its privacy statement to safeguard users’ privacy.
However, Petitioner did not submit a copy of the privacy statement to support the request. Furthermore, Petitioner claimed that Google fixed the alleged breach within days of Google Buzz’s launch, by setting the default for Google Buzz’s auto-follow feature to off.
Instead, Petitioner presented as evidence to the court a number of articles published on an online financial news service. Judge Isaac Inbar ruled that there was insufficient evidence to support the request for out-of-jurisdiction service of claim and therefore dismissed the request, thereby putting an end to the class action as a whole.
The feeble end to the class action stands in contrast to the $8.5 million settlement agreement in a similar class action filed last year in a federal district court in California.
Case name: CA (Jerusalem District Court) 4091-10 Amal Jeraisy v. Google Israel Ltd. and others (Decision delivered on March 3, 2011).

For further details contact Dan Or-Hof, CIPP, at Pearl Cohen Zedek Latzer.