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Eavesdropping class action filed against Yahoo in SDIL after California court rejects national class

By The Madison County Record | Jun 9, 2015

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Seven days after a California judge rejected a national class action on an eavesdropping claim against Yahoo, Kaylynn Rehberger of Highland started a similar suit on behalf of an Illinois class.

She claims Yahoo violates state law by intercepting messages between its users and persons like her with other email providers.

Thomas Rosenfeld and Kevin Green, of Goldenberg Heller in Edwardsville, filed her complaint at U.S. district court on June 2.

A week earlier, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh of San Jose had ruled that certification of a national class action against Yahoo would be improper.

She found she could neither apply California law to all states nor apply laws of all states at once.

That suit will proceed as a California class action.

According to the Illinois complaint, Yahoo claims the right to scan and analyze all incoming and outgoing messages from a user’s account.

“Plaintiff is not a Yahoo Mail user and not a party to the purported contract between Yahoo and Yahoo Mail users,” Rosenfeld wrote.

The suit claims that Rehberger did not consent and did not know Yahoo intercepted and disclosed the information.

Rosenfeld wrote that Yahoo Mail claims more than 75 million users in the United States and more than 275 million globally. Yahoo does not charge customers for basic service.

“In exchange for the ‘free’ email service, Yahoo users are subject to advertising when using the Yahoo Mail service,” Rosenfeld wrote.

He wrote that Yahoo can charge advertisers more to target certain demographic groups and individuals, and it can increase revenues by obtaining details about users.

“Yahoo conceals information about its practices from the general public,” Rosenfeld wrote.

He wrote that in California, information about Yahoo’s interception and scanning practices is filed under seal.

The class certification motion in Koh’s court sported black bars over most of the words in a stretch of seven pages, with many short redactions on other pages.

That case started in 2013, after Koh consolidated six complaints.

Last year she dismissed allegations that Yahoo violated the California constitution and that it lacked consent under state wiretap law.

Koh denied a motion to dismiss an allegation that Yahoo invaded privacy.

She further denied a motion to dismiss an allegation that Yahoo violated the Stored Communications Act. And, she denied a motion to dismiss an allegation that Yahoo violated state wiretap law by intercepting messages before they reached the server.

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