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Class action lawsuit filed against Google for scrapping public data

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In a lawsuit filed on Tuesday, Google, its parent company Alphabet, and its AI subsidiary DeepMind are accused of scraping data from millions of users without their consent and violating copyright laws.

The proposed class action suit, filed by Clarkson Law Firm in a federal court in California, claims that Google has been surreptitiously collecting data from hundreds of millions of Americans to train its artificial intelligence products, including the chatbot Bard.

OpenAI has already faced severe backlash, and the company, at one time, was faced with an uncertain future in Europe. This led the company to announce that it won’t use users’ data anymore to train its AI tools.

According to the complaint, Google has taken “virtually the entirety of our digital footprint,” including copyrighted works, to develop its AI tools. The lawsuit points to a recent update in Google’s privacy policy that explicitly states the company’s use of publicly accessible information to train its AI models. Google’s representatives, as well as Alphabet and DeepMind, have not yet responded to the allegations.

The lawsuit comes when AI tools, such as large language models, have gained significant attention for their ability to generate written content and images based on user prompts. However, using copyrighted material and personal data, including children’s, in training these models has raised legal concerns.

“Google needs to understand that ‘publicly available’ has never meant free to use for any purpose,” Tim Giordano, one of the attorneys at Clarkson bringing the suit against Google, told CNN. “Our personal information and our data is our property, and it’s valuable, and nobody has the right just to take it and use it for any purpose.”

Photo: Tada Images /
Large language AI models train on publicly available data on the internet. | Photo: Tada Images /

The suit seeks injunctive relief, including a temporary freeze on commercial access to Google’s generative AI tools like Bard. Additionally, the plaintiffs seek financial compensation for individuals whose data was allegedly misappropriated by Google. the law firm has identified eight plaintiffs, including a minor.

The lawsuit highlights the contrast between the traditional indexing of online data by Google’s search engine, which can drive engagement and purchase of copyrighted work, and the alleged scraping of data for AI training.

Ryan Clarkson, a partner at the law firm, emphasised the need for Google to allow individuals to opt out of having their data used for AI training while still being able to use the internet for their everyday needs.

As the legal scrutiny around AI training and data usage intensifies, Google’s practices face increasing challenges. The outcome of this lawsuit will likely have significant implications for the future of data collection and AI development.

In the News: European Commission approves EU-US data transfer framework


Kumar Hemant

Deputy Editor at Candid.Technology. Hemant writes at the intersection of tech and culture and has a keen interest in science, social issues and international relations. You can contact him here: [email protected]