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  • Judge Dismisses Lawsuit against Google for Bypassing Safari Privacy Controls

    A Delaware judge recently dismissed a class-action lawsuit filed by users of Apple’s Safari browser after finding that the plaintiffs couldn’t prove that the search giant had caused any real harm when it circumvented Apple’s security measures in order to store cookies in the browser. Attorneys for Matthew Soble filed suit against Google, claiming that Google sidestepped Safari’s built-in privacy settings in order to track users’ web activities. The suit came after it was revealed that Google and at least three other web ad networks had placed into their ads that disguised them as user-initiated form submissions, thereby keeping Safari from blocking cookies from those ads, as the browser does by default.

    Soble’s suit has been struck down by Delaware’s Judge Sue Robinson, who ruled that the plaintiffs had not sufficiently demonstrated direct harm to them stemming from Google’s actions. The plaintiffs had not “shown a loss of money or property from Google’s actions,” Robinson’s opinion read. The personal information collected due to Google’s circumvention of Safari’s protections, “does not constitute property” according to the ruling.

    The ruling looked at the case through the prism of several laws regarding electronic communications, including the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act, The California Computer Crime Law and The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, among others. Robinson did not find a single case of Google’s activities to be in violation of standing law with regard to the plaintiff’s allegations.

    Although Soble’s case was dismissed, Google has already seen discipline from other governing bodies. The Federal Trade Commission slapped the search giant with its largest fine in history over the cookie issue. Google was told to pay $22.5 million but the regulatory body allowed Google to deny liability for its actions.

    Google on the other hand has all along maintained that it did nothing wrong. The company stated that its actions were meant to allow users of Google services such as Google+ to have access to aspects of those services across the sites they visited. Google continued by stating the following:

    However, the Safari browser contained functionality that then enabled Google advertising cookies to be set on the browser. We didn't anticipate that this would happen... It's important to stress that, just as on other browsers, these advertising cookies do not collect personal information.
    Source: PDF via AppleInsider
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Judge Dismisses Lawsuit against Google for Bypassing Safari Privacy Controls started by Akshay Masand View original post
    Comments 3 Comments
    1. PokemonDesigner's Avatar
      PokemonDesigner -
      While I do not see this sueable, I feel as though they shouldn't do it without some form of warning. It just seems unprofessional and rather amateur hacker status. It's really not something a company as "good" or big as Google should do. It's almost as if the ad tracking is part of the NSA and they are the reason Google was let off the hook.
    1. fleurya's Avatar
      fleurya -
      What is the typical definition of malware? Isn't it basically software that pretend to be something, even providing some kind of legit service to the user, but the whole time it's real purpose is to do something else, like steal your data?

      That is the very definition of everything Google from their search to the whole Android OS. It's "free" software designed to be something you may want, but it's real purpose is to collect your data!

      Google is the biggest malware company on the planet.
    1. cmwade77's Avatar
      cmwade77 -
      What I don't understand is why this kind of litigation is still being processed with the government shutdown. Bottom line is this is not essential, processing criminals, deporting illegal aliens, protecting our borders, etc. is what is essential.