Verizon Unable To Shake Off Lawsuits Over Yahoo Data Breach

Image courtesy of Yahoo

There’s some bad legal news for Verizon, new owner of the internet services and content portions of Yahoo. A federal judge in San Jose denied Verizon’s motion to dismiss lawsuits from Yahoo users whose accounts were part of a series of breaches that affected an unprecedented number of users.

Yahoo had moved to dismiss the case, claiming that plaintiffs did not show that the data breach had harmed them in specific enough ways, and that the harm could not be directly linked to the breach of their Yahoo accounts. While the judge agreed to dismiss parts of the case, her order [PDF] says that Yahoo users’ lawsuits can go forward.

The named plaintiffs in the case were from different states and even different countries, and represented different ways that customers had been harmed due to the data breach. Yahoo users who had credit card and banking statements alleged that the account breaches led to credit card fraud.

Another named plaintiff notes that he continues to pay for commercial identity theft protection, and another was a victim of U.S. tax return identity theft.

“All plaintiffs have alleged a risk of future identity theft, in addition to loss of value of their personal identification information,” U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh noted in her order.

That is a real risk in modern life, and users will need to keep in mind that their information could be floating around for the rest of their lives, and even after they’ve died.

One of the plaintiffs’ lawyers noted in an interview with Reuters that the Yahoo account breach is “the biggest data breach in the history of the world.” It meant that Verizon got a significant discount when it purchased the remains of Yahoo, but now Verizon still must face litigation.