On January 4, US District Judge Manish Shah ruled a class action lawsuit against Yahoo, allowing people who sent or received emails from its mail users to sue the company. Class action has been granted to any persons affected from October 2011. Reuters reported that, according to the court papers, more than 500,000 mobile phone users could be a part of that class.
Yahoo was accused of sending unsolicited messages, triggered when its users sent messages via the Yahoo Messenger service, in order to boost advertising revenue. The claim was the company had intercepted and analysed non-Yahoo users’ messages, a violation of the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act, for the purpose of “targeted advertising”.
The claim was the company had intercepted and analysed non-Yahoo users’ messages
The first plaintiff was Rachel Johnson, an Illinois resident, who claimed a spam text message was immediately followed by a Yahoo welcome message. In its defence, Yahoo argued some of the plaintiffs continued to email its subscribers while aware of its actions, and therefore consented to Yahoo accessing their emails.
Further disputing the lawsuit, Yahoo argued a class action could subject it to damages disproportionate to the alleged harm, promote “piecemeal” litigation covering other time periods and phone carriers, and go against Congress’ desire that claims be brought individually in small claims court. Shah rejected these claims.
On top of an injunction banning the company from allegedly spying on emails, Yahoo could also be subjected to damages of up to $1,500 per message if the violations were wilful.