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Julia Love writes for The Recorder, an American Lawyer affiliate.

SAN FRANCISCO — A pair of Silicon Valley judges have dramatically parted ways on how much wiggle room email providers have under federal wiretap laws to gather user information.

In an order issued Tuesday evening, U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal of the Northern District of California tossed a class action that accused Google of violating users’ privacy by harnessing their personal data across various products. Grewal ruled in In re Google Privacy Policy Litigation, 12-1382, that Google’s practices fall under an exemption in federal anti-surveillance laws for activities conducted by communications service providers in the “ordinary course of business.” Congress crafted that phrase to cover a wide range of activity, he concluded, siding with Google’s lawyers at Durie Tangri.

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