Google faces class-action lawsuit for scraping public data without consent

"For years, Google harvested this data in secret, without notice or consent from anyone," reads the complaint document

Google campus

Earlier this month, Google updated its privacy policy to indicate that it can use anything and everything available on the public web as training material for its AI products.

“We may collect information that’s publicly available online or from other public sources to help train Google’s AI models and build products and features like Google Translate, Bard, and Cloud AI capabilities,” read the statement. What this meant was that Google can pick information from any part of the public web, so any publicly visible threads you’ve written online might soon be a part of its database to train Bard and other AI products it might be working on.

Naturally, people are not happy with the development, and a class-action lawsuit has been filed against Google for “stealing everything ever shared on the internet,” as shared by Gizmodo.

The lawsuit was filed by the law firm Clarkson, and it alleges that Google scraped information from the internet without consent or compensation. “For years, Google harvested this data in secret, without notice or consent from anyone,” reads the complaint document. 

The plaintiffs in the case are a group of internet users, ranging from a best-selling author to a six-year-old boy. They claim that Google’s data collection was done secretly and that they were only made aware of it after Google revised its privacy policies earlier this month.

In response to the lawsuit, Google’s General Counsel, Halimah DeLaine Prado, said that, “We’ve been clear for years that we use data from public sources — like information published to the open web and public datasets– to train the AI models behind services like Google Translate, responsibly and in line with our AI Principles.” She added, “American law supports using public information to create new beneficial uses, and we look forward to refuting these baseless claims.”

The Clarkson lawsuit seeks $5 million in damages, as well as a pause on the commercial use of Google’s AI until proper safeguards are established. It also demands that Google pay “data dividends” to every person whose data was used to develop its AI. Considering that Google scrapped data off the entire public web, data dividends will hardly be possible.

Via: Gizmodo