Legal Question in Technology Law in California

Can a class action be brought against Google for its inefficient email password recovery procedures and policy? Their policy (as it currently stands) effectively locks one out of their email account if the password is forgotten. Furthermore, even if you have ALL info needed to identify yourself as the owner, Google will still not allow the account to be recovered, and provides no meaningful path for one to prove, or appeal, that they are the owner of the account. Is this possible conversion of property...who owns the data in ones email account? Can a company be sued for not having any means of redress when it comes to recovering data belonging to its customer/clients?

Asked on 9/24/13, 10:02 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Edward Hoffman Law Offices of Edward A. Hoffman

You own the data in your email account. But as far as I can tell, Google has not deleted any of that data and is not barring you from accessing it. The problem is that you forgot your password. It sounds like you also either forgot the security information you were supposed to provide or failed to provide it at all.

Getting into an email account without this information is *supposed* to be difficult. Google's procedures are designed to protect users' data by making it hard for others to gain unauthorized access to their accounts.

It isn't Google's fault that you forgot your password or that the usual methods of regaining access to your account are not working. The fact that you can't log in means the system is working the way it's supposed to.

You may believe you have proven that you're the owner of the account, but Google evidently does not agree. If you can't offer the type of proof Google requires, Google does not have to compromise its security procedures to help you out. If they did, then other people would be able to break into accounts by pretending to be the owners. That you can't get around these security measures does not mean Google is doing anything wrong or that you can sue them successfully.

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Answered on 9/24/13, 11:32 am

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