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This is a new one for me and doing some quick searching didn't produce and informative results pertaining to my questions. I did find information regarding the case which dates back to 2014.

Today I received an email from Google stating that they are being ordered by a state court to produce information relating to my AdSense account. This includes my name, address and telephone number. Judging by the email I assume that I am not the only one and this is more of a blanket scenario.

Here is the email:

Notice About Your AdSense Account

Hello,

Recently, Google was ordered by a California state court to produce information relating to your AdSense account. This email serves as notice to you that Google will comply with that court order and produce the information unless you make a formal objection to the court that issued the order, as described below.

Please note that this notice has been sent to you by a no-reply email address. Replies sent to [no reply alias] will not be opened, read, or reviewed.

The court order was issued in a lawsuit entitled Ogtanyan v. Google Inc., in the Superior Court of the State of California, Santa Clara County, Case No. 114-CV-259301. This lawsuit was filed against Google by a former AdSense publisher named Peter Ogtanyan, who is challenging Google’s termination of his AdSense account. As part of his lawsuit against Google, Mr. Ogtanyan requested that Google produce to him the name, address and telephone number of AdSense publishers whose accounts were terminated between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2014, but who successfully appealed termination through Google’s internal appeals procedure and received payment of earnings that had been withheld. It appears from our records that you are a publisher who falls in this category.

Over Google’s objection, the California court ruled that Google must provide this information to Mr. Ogtanyan. It is possible that Mr. Ogtanyan’s lawyer will use this information to contact you, but this does not make you a party to this case. The court also issued a protective order in this case, and Google will designate your information as highly confidential. This designation prohibits Mr. Ogtanyan and his lawyer from using your information for any purpose outside of his lawsuit against Google. It also limits the persons with whom Mr. Ogtanyan and his lawyer may share your information.

If you do not want Google to produce your AdSense account information to Mr. Ogtanyan, you must (1) file a motion to quash or other type of formal objection in this lawsuit (Case No. 114-CV-259301) in the Superior Court of the State of California, Santa Clara County; and (2) provide a copy of the file-stamped motion or objection to us by emailing it to Google’s lawyer at nicolealtman@quinnemanuel.com by 5 p.m. Pacific Time on May 9, 2016.

Unfortunately, Google cannot give you legal advice about this matter. Regards, Google Legal Investigations Support


Questions:

  1. Do my assumptions seem accurate in which this is not unique to my information and more of a blanket email to every Adsense publisher which fits the descriptions within the email?
  2. Does Google marking this information as "highly confidential" actually mean anything once it is provided?
  3. Should i get legal advice? (Hard without money for said advice).
  • 1
    I have had an email too. I was worried at first! – user63686 May 3 '16 at 18:04
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    It means that by court order, Google must disclose all earnings and personal information from people within that state. I expect at some point this will expand and other states, and countries will follow suit, because lots of people only disclose their earnings when they redraw their earnings, obviously this doesn't comply with tax legalisation. Google could solve this problem by automatically paying out each month rather than having users set a payout amount over the threshold, but they won't because they make interest on money that technically isn't there's no more... :) – Simon Hayter May 3 '16 at 18:18
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    @SimonHayter This is not limited to the state of California. It is a calif case however. This is a standard procedure in discovery where the plaintiff, in this case, defendant otherwise, has the legal right to information as part of the discovery process. This is very early in the process. Google's motion is to protect your information from becoming public record and is standard. You may be called by the attorney or its representatives and asked a few questions. Generally, this is far as it goes, however, it is possible that you may end up on a witness list but not generally called. – closetnoc May 3 '16 at 19:46
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    What would this mean to me since I am not a US citizen nor located within the United States? – Analog May 3 '16 at 20:13
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    Really nothing. Unless you want a free trip to California! ;-) I went through something similar on a smaller and more local scale. I was on the witness list and my testimony was within an affidavit which means that it was as good as being there. For you, it will not even get that far. If you want to answer questions, that is fine. I am sure it will not go beyond that. For me, they would have had to call me into court for a couple of days from another state (still local) and I would miss work. Since I was not as local as other witnesses, they had no interest in calling me to testify. – closetnoc May 3 '16 at 22:32
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1) Yes

ii - Unknown, but it may help to keep the information under seal in the court records instead of being accessible to anyone who requests the records of the case.

c. I wouldn't at this time. This has very little to do with you personally. The plaintiff is attempting to show that Google acted in an arbitrary or capricious fashion when they closed his account and they are going to use you (and probably hundreds of others) to prove that. You may be contacted by the plaintiff attorney and asked questions about your termination, appeal, and reinstatement but unless you receive a subpoena you are under no obligation to answer. If you did receive a subpoena then you ARE under obligation to answer and at that point it would have been worth paying for an hour of a lawyer's time to more fully understand things. But because you are not in the USA the liklihood of you ever being contacted is extremely low.

You can also file a motion to quash your data from being revealed but that will involve getting a lawyer and (IMHO) has very little chance of succeeding unless there is something in your data that radically differs from other users.

protected by Community May 3 '16 at 23:05

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