California Court Dismisses Microsoft Consumer Data Privacy Class Action

Software user plaintiffs will have a chance to re-plead some of their privacy claims against Microsoft Corporation after Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers issued a motion to dismiss ruling on Wednesday. The court held that the plaintiffs lacked standing and failed to state a claim for relief in its 13-page opinion.

As previously reported, the plaintiffs, businesses who use Microsoft’s software, filed suit alleging that the company shares customers’ data without their consent. The class action complaint contends that subcontractors, developers, and third-parties, including Facebook, received the information from Microsoft despite privacy policies promising otherwise. They state claims for relief under the federal Wiretap Act, the Stored Communications Act, and several Washington consumer protection and privacy laws.

Judge Gonzalez Rogers noted at the outset of her analysis that “the precise nature of plaintiffs’ claims lacks clarity.” The court held that the plaintiffs lacked standing because they failed to allege facts enabling a “reasonable inference that they have been injured by Microsoft’s conduct.” The opinion called the allegations “generic,” because they concluded, without the requisite support, that Microsoft improperly used and shared customer data.

For similar and additional reasons, Judge Gonzalez Rogers determined that the plaintiffs failed to state a claim on the merits. The complaint suggested that Microsoft could be using customer data and subcontractors to develop new products, but put forward no facts suggesting that this actually happens, the opinion said.

The plaintiffs have until July 21 to amend their pleading. They are represented by Bailey & Glasser LLP and The Golan Firm PLLC. Microsoft is represented by Cooley.