Google Tells Users It Scans Their Email As Microsoft Puts “Scroogled” To Bed

gmail inbox tabs Google updated its terms of service (TOS) yesterday to make more explicit the fact that it scans Gmail for the purpose of matching email content with ads. The relevant part of the updated TOS reads: Our automated systems analyze your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customized search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection. This analysis occurs as the content is sent, received, and when it is stored. Google has been sued for the practice as an alleged violation of the Federal Wiretap Act. The case survived Google' [...]


Google Takes “SpyView” Wiretapping Appeal To SCOTUS

Google Street View car Google seeks US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) review of a US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision, which affirmed a lower court denial of Google's motion to dismiss a class action lawsuit brought after the 2010 Street View private "payload data" capture revelations. Plaintiffs argue that Google violated the federal "Wiretap Act" when it intercepted their private email and other communications during Street View data collection. The Wiretap Act makes it illegal to “intentionally intercept . . . any wire, oral, or electronic communication" and to "use or disclose information that is obtained [...]


Second Apple Patent Suit Vs. Samsung Ropes In Google

apple-google-featured If you're tired of news about smartphone-related patent litigation, you're not alone. However, there's more to come as Apple and Samsung's long-running patent feud appears no closer to resolution today than it was two years ago. The parties return to court this week for another round of patent-for-tat. The new case presents five Apple claims against Samsung and two counterclaims against Apple. Among the Apple claims against Samsung are "slide to unlock" and "tap to search" (on a map) or call a phone number. The damages sought by each side are curiously unbalanced. Apple wants a $40 roya [...]


Google Fined For “Non-Cooperation” In Indian Antitrust Inquiry

computer-internet-legal-law-featured The Google antitrust drama keeps migrating east. First the US FTC settled its investigation of Google without any significant penalty or restrictions. More recently, the long European antitrust inquiry appears to be "essentially" over, with a settlement built on the presentation of "rival links." Google is also in the midst of an antitrust, anti-competition investigation in India. (There's also and ongoing antitrust investigation in Canada). Things are now heating up in the Indian case. Last week, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) decided to impose a fine on Google "not pr [...]


Judge Denies Class Action Status To Gmail “Wiretapping” Suit, Effectively Killing It

computer-internet-legal-law-featured Google received a major win yesterday in the potentially massive Gmail "wiretapping" litigation. Class action status was denied to the litigation by US District Judge Lucy Koh. Had the case been permitted to go forward as a unified class action, as Bloomberg points out, "the amount at stake could have reached into the trillions of dollars if, as the plaintiffs argued, each person was eligible for damages of $100 a day for violations of federal wiretap law." Earlier, Judge Koh had refused to dismiss the case. In the wake of yesterday's ruling, however, plaintiffs must proceed individual [...]


Google Seeking To Keep Depth Of Gmail Scanning Confidential

google-chrome-privacy-featured Google is currently fighting a federal consolidated class action lawsuit over Gmail scanning and data-mining. A main legal theory in the case argues Google's activity constitutes illegal "wiretapping." Google is reportedly trying to keep confidential many of the details of its internal processes and has asked US District Judge Lucy H. Koh "to redact 'confidential' information from the [public court] transcript," according to Bloomberg. The report adds, "The main revelation at the Feb. 27 hearing was the existence of 'Content Onebox,' used by Google to intercept e-mails for targeted adverti [...]


Google Celebrates The Web’s 25th Birthday With Plea To Keep It Free

25th Web anniversary birthday cake image " Today's Google homepage includes a small birthday cake image with a "25" candle on top to celebrate the web's 25th birthday. The image links to a post on Google's blog penned by the inventor of the web Sir Tim Berners-Lee, asking that everyone "fight to keep it free and open." Berners-Lee writes: On the 25th birthday of the web, I ask you to join in—to help us imagine and build the future standards for the web, and to press for every country to develop a digital bill of rights to advance a free and open web for everyone. Learn more and speak up for the sort of web we really want [...]


Google France Home Page Now Carries Privacy Violation Notice, As Ordered

Google France notice As expected, the home page of Google France now carries a notification to users that Google was fined for privacy violations relating to the "unified" privacy policy change it made in 2012. A required link to the ruling against it might also be slowing the site of the French privacy agency. Notice Required For 2 Days Google is appealing the ruling made against it in January, which also carried a 150,000 euro fine (about $200,000). Google had asked that the requirement to post a notice be put on hold pending the appeal, but that was denied. Hence the notice going up now. The notice say [...]


Court Tells Google It Must Admit Privacy Penalty On Google France Home Page

google-privacy-200 Following the imposition of a fine by the French National Commission for Computing and Civil Liberties (CNIL) for violating consumer privacy, Google was ordered to post a statement on its French homepage that its privacy policy did not comply with French law: The Sanctions Committee ordered Google Inc. to publish a communiqué on this decision on the website https://www.google.fr, during 48 hours, within eight days as of the notification of the decision. This publicity measure is justified by the extent of Google’s data collection, as well as by the necessity to inform the persons conce [...]


Google Tries To Block Shaming Privacy Notification In France

google-privacy-200 Last month, Google was fined for violating French privacy rules with its “unified” privacy policy. The French National Commission for Computing and Civil Liberties (CNIL) had given Google and ultimatum to “fix” its privacy policy or be fined. Generally speaking, CNIL objects to the lack of specific notice to consumers about how their data are being used. However, Google takes the position that it's in full compliance with European privacy standards. It therefore declined to change anything to satisfy French regulators. Making good on its threat, CNIL imposed the maximum avail [...]


Consumer Watchdog Files FTC Complaint Over “Send To Anyone On Google+” Feature

consumerwatchdog Consumer Watchdog, the non-profit group that might more accurately be called "Google Watchdog," has filed a complaint with the FTC over Google's recent rollout of a feature that lets Gmail users contact Google+ users without knowing the recipient's email address. Google launched the "Send to Anyone on Google+" feature earlier this month, which lets anyone with a Gmail and Google+ account send messages to anyone else with Gmail and Google+ accounts. Google made the feature opt-out, meaning users that didn't want to potentially get messages from strangers via Gmail/Google+ had to turn it off [...]


Google Remarketing Ads Broke Canada Privacy Laws, Concedes To Revamp Ad Review System

Google legal Canada’s Office of the Privacy Commissioner has found Google in violation of Canada’s privacy rights for the use of sensitive health history in remarketing campaigns. The finding comes after an investigation spurred by a Canadian man who complained that his private health information was being used by Google to retarget him with ads for sleeep apnea devices after he visited sites with information about those devices. In the process of the investigation, Canada's privacy watchdog also found Google's automated ad review system to have "demonstrable shortcomings". As a result, Google has a [...]


Google Fails To Prevent UK Court From Hearing Privacy Suit

google-legal-law It's rare that courts rule they don't have jurisdiction to hear cases arising from events that happened on their own soil. Thus, predictably, Google has lost its bid to dismiss a UK-based civil complaint, arising out of the "Cookiegate" episode, on jurisdictional grounds. As you may recall, Cookiegate arose when Google was discovered surreptitiously circumventing the Safari browser’s privacy settings (on the iPhone and beyond) in early 2012. It ultimately resulted in regulatory investigations and fines. In the US, Google paid a $22.5 million fine to settle the case with the FTC. [...]


Google Faces Maximum Privacy Fine, Public Shaming In France

Google Europe legal With the NSA spying scandal and a brewing transatlantic privacy dispute in the background, Google was given the maximum fine, 150,000 euros (roughly $203,000), for violating French privacy rules with its "unified" privacy policy. The French privacy authority, the National Commission for Computing and Civil Liberties (CNIL), previously gave Google three months to change and "fix" its privacy policy or face the fine. Google maintained that it was in compliance with European privacy standards and declined to make any changes. As expected the company was penalized. The financial penalty wil [...]


EU Privacy Complaint Takes Aim At Google’s ‘Shared Endorsements’ Ad Content

Google Europe legal Privacy advocate Simon Davies has filed a formal privacy complaint in 14 European countries against Google's expanded "Shared Endorsements" ad program. The "Privacy Surgeon," as Davies calls himself, lodged the complaint today with data protection regulators in Norway, Sweden, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Spain, Italy, Slovenia, Austria, Belgium, Germany, Lithuania, Netherlands and Poland. The complaint argues that Google's Shared Endorsements violates a range of specific provisions of the "Article 29" data protection rules and that the opt-out aspect places too much of a burden on c [...]


German Court: Google Privacy Policy Violates Consumer Rights

google-privacy-200 A German court has ruled that Google's integrated privacy policy violates its national data protection law, according to a report from IDG news service. Google has had trouble and been criticized in Europe since consolidating its many privacy policies into one in March 2012. Google has maintained that its unified privacy policy, which allows the company to combine data sets across Google properties, benefits consumers because it's simpler than having numerous, independent privacy policies. European governments have repeatedly asked for clarifications, additional information and more recently [...]


Nearly $40 Million Later, Google Ends “Cookiegate” Scandal

google-building-featured The Wall Street Journal reported earlier today Google will pay $17 million "to settle allegations brought by 37 states and the District of Columbia that it placed unauthorized tracking 'cookies' on Web browsers in 2011 and 2012." That $17 million, combined with the $22.5 million Google paid as part of a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) settlement over the same claims, brings to nearly $40 million the amount the company has forked over to resolve "Cookiegate." In February 2012 the Wall Street Journal initially reported that Google and a couple of other ad networks, including Gannett’s Poin [...]


US Sen. Markey Calls For FTC Investigation Over Google’s “Shared Endorsements”

google-privacy-200 Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) has asked the Federal Trade Commission to take a closer look at Google's "Shared Endorsements" ads. On Thursday when the New York Times story discussing the program was published it initially appeared that Google was introducing a new "Sponsored Stories"-like ad unit. I was confused at first (before talking to Google), as were others. However as we later clarified Shared Endorsements is not a new ad unit. The company was merely expanding the range of social and user-generated content types that could be included in search and display ads. I was quite critical o [...]


Google Launching “Sponsored Endorsements” — User Ratings, Comments, Likes Integrated Into Ads

google-privacy-200 Google is going to use the images, likenesses, comments and other user-created data of its users in ads on its display network. The forthcoming Google display ads will be called "Shared Endorsements." They're not yet live, and they won't apply to users under 18. There will be an opt-out. NOTE: See our follow-up story, FAQ: All About Google’s New “Shared Endorsement” Ads According to a report in the New York Times: On Friday, Google announced an update to its terms of service that allows the company to include adult users’ names, photos and comments in ads shown across the Web, [...]


Google Confronts Unwelcome “Wiretapping” Class Actions

google-legal-law As reported in the New York Times, Google is confronting two "wiretapping" class actions that have been allowed to move forward in the courts. One involves automated scanning of Gmail for ad insertion and the other surrounds Google Street View collection of email and other personal data. When Gmail first introduced ads there was a temporary furor, which has all but disappeared other than the case at hand. Street View data collection or "WiSpy" as some have called it has been a much larger, ongoing headache for Google. Recently Google lost an appeal involving its motion to dismiss the Street [...]


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