The New York lawsuit, the text of which is available on The Los Angeles Times Web site, says the change in Google's guidelines enacted March 1 "violates Google's prior privacy policies, which deceived and misled consumers by stating that Google would not utilize information provided by a consumer in connection with his or her use of one service, with any other service, for any reason, without the consumer's consent."
"It also violates consumers' privacy rights, allowing Google to take information from a consumer's Gmail account and Google+ account, which may have one expectation of privacy, and use it in a different context,..." the suit says. This is in violation of a consent decree Google reached with the Federal Trade Commission last year, claims the suit, filed on Tuesday by three New York residents.
The California lawsuit, which two plaintiffs filed Tuesday in federal court in San Jose, makes the same arguments. "Google is now aggregating consumers' personal information without consumers' consent; has failed to provide a simple, effective opt-out mechanism,..." the suit claims.
The lawsuits claim violations of the Federal Wiretap Act, the Stored Electronic Communications Act, and the Computer Fraud Abuse Act, among other counts.
Meanwhile, several privacy groups are challenging the change, claiming it violates a privacy agreement Google reached to settle a complaint with the FTC over privacy issues related to Google Buzz. The opponents claim that increased advertising opportunities are the reason for the changes, but Google says the changes will allow it to provide a better experience for users.
Heavy criticism also is coming from the European Union. France's data protection authority, known as the Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertes (CNIL), recently contacted Google executives about the change, saying several agencies across the Eurozone have serious concerns about the move.
Update, March 23, 10:35 a.m. PT: Google provided this statement after being served with the lawsuits:
(A tip of the hat to IDG News Service)