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Google Seeks To Throw Out UK Safari Tracking Suit

Unknown Lamer posted about 8 months ago | from the international-relations dept.

Google 70

judgecorp writes "In the latest twist to the saga of Google's tracking of Safari users, the tech giant has asked to have a U.K. lawsuit dismissed. Google says it is bound by California laws, so plaintiffs will have to come to the U.S. and sue there. Law firm Olswang is bringing the suit on behalf of British users whose Safari browser settings were overridden to help Google target ads; it argues that international organizations should respect the laws that apply where their customers live."

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Google Bows to No Queen (3, Interesting)

theodp (442580) | about 8 months ago | (#45709717)

Consistent with their tax stance, at least. :-)

Re:Google Bows to No Queen (3, Informative)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 8 months ago | (#45709771)

Doesn't matter - like most jurisdictions, if a business has a physical presence in a given area, they can be sued and are subject to the laws in that area. Odds are pretty good that Google has a physical presence at least somewhere in the UK, so...

Gotta give 'em credit for Chutzpah, though.

Re:Google Bows to No Queen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45710329)

Depends on the contract and EULA. Even if I have a presence in the UK, if a block there agreed to be bound by CA law, we have to go there to settle this contract. I'm glad you have the Chutzpah for not reading contract law but posting here.

The terms are very clear at the bottom:
https://www.google.com/intl/en/policies/terms/

The laws of California, U.S.A., excluding California’s conflict of laws rules, will apply to any disputes arising out of or relating to these terms or the Services. All claims arising out of or relating to these terms or the Services will be litigated exclusively in the federal or state courts of Santa Clara County, California, USA, and you and Google consent to personal jurisdiction in those courts.

Re:Google Bows to No Queen (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45710375)

Except that in order for that to hold, it would have to be a valid contract. And given that UK law involves not being able to give up certain rights (like the right to sue), even through a contract, that contract isn't going to hold up.

Re:Google Bows to No Queen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45710481)

So I can never have a contract with someone in the UK because their government always demands jurisdiction? Please cite the law because no one and I mean no one would would do business with the UK. These plaintiffs have the right to sue in the agreed upon jurisdiction (please read terms).

Re:Google Bows to No Queen (2)

Desler (1608317) | about 8 months ago | (#45710513)

Yes, you can not make a contract with someone in any country that has clauses that violate that country's law. That leads to either just the clauses themselves or the entire contract to be nullified.

Re:Google Bows to No Queen (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 8 months ago | (#45711819)

Stipulations are not illegal though. You can loan me money and i can agree that all disputes to the contract or repayment be settled in your home town. Likewise, you can agree to not take legal actions if repayment isn't made according to the contract. We both can be held to those terms if we violate them. That in and of itself is not illegal even if local laws provide the means to act contrary to the agreed contract.

The issue here may be that by agreeing to terms that specify jurisdiction, they may have waived the rights to sue outside that jurisdiction. But that doesn't mean the government is prevented from prosecuting or fining. I don't think google will get out of the suit should the case be moved, but they may gain an advantage. But iirc, most courts will ignore jurisdiction clauses if it disproportionatly creates a hardship for one of the psrties.

Re:Google Bows to No Queen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45711917)

Stipulations are not illegal though. You can loan me money and i can agree that all disputes to the contract or repayment be settled in your home town. Likewise, you can agree to not take legal actions if repayment isn't made according to the contract. We both can be held to those terms if we violate them. That in and of itself is not illegal even if local laws provide the means to act contrary to the agreed contract.

The issue here may be that by agreeing to terms that specify jurisdiction, they may have waived the rights to sue outside that jurisdiction. But that doesn't mean the government is prevented from prosecuting or fining. I don't think google will get out of the suit should the case be moved, but they may gain an advantage. But iirc, most courts will ignore jurisdiction clauses if it disproportionatly creates a hardship for one of the psrties.

I still don't think that Google, even if it is a US/California based company, can make contracts with people in the UK which stipulate that Google opts out of UK law. Americans seem to have a rather inflated idea of what the validity of US law is beyond the borders of the US. I have seen interviews with US citizens in foreign jails who genuinely thought they'd be tried according to US laws... in places like Brazil ... or Thailand....

Re:Google Bows to No Queen (1)

dkf (304284) | about 8 months ago | (#45712133)

I still don't think that Google, even if it is a US/California based company, can make contracts with people in the UK which stipulate that Google opts out of UK law. Americans seem to have a rather inflated idea of what the validity of US law is beyond the borders of the US. I have seen interviews with US citizens in foreign jails who genuinely thought they'd be tried according to US laws... in places like Brazil ... or Thailand....

What's more, a jurisdiction may well give additional protections to private individuals that businesses don't receive when it comes to contracts. I've no idea how it works in the US (or Brazil or Thailand) but in the UK, consumer protection law is quite strong and can only be opted out of by not providing products or services to consumers in the first place.

Given that Google has a corporate presence, and is actively marketing their products and services to UK consumers, it's quite likely that a UK court will decide that they do have jurisdiction.

california copyright laws exist only in calif. (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45712225)

Therefore if contract agreements apply ONLY in california, then there is no UK copyright to infringe, since the copyright being enforced is in california. Which isn't the UK.

If I then go to california, Google may then issue a request for the police to pick me up to face charges, but to do so in the UK requires a contract to me that uses UK copyright law to get the UK courts to enforce the copyrights.

Re:california copyright laws exist only in calif. (1)

Wootery (1087023) | about 8 months ago | (#45714121)

What? No. You've just invented the idea that the UK only recognises copyrights for works produced within the UK.

I'm not a lawyer, but I imagine the UK court would recognise a copyright infringement regardless of that the author was in California. Surely, if you infringe the Californian's copyright whilst in the UK, you've broken UK copyright law and can be tried in the UK.

Re:california copyright laws exist only in calif. (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 8 months ago | (#45715009)

What? No. You've just invented the idea that the UK only recognises copyrights for works produced within the UK.

I'm not a lawyer, but I imagine the UK court would recognise a copyright infringement regardless of that the author was in California. Surely, if you infringe the Californian's copyright whilst in the UK, you've broken UK copyright law and can be tried in the UK.

By law, that's correct - each country only recognizes their copyright and do not generally respect those of other countries. In fact, during the early colonial days, many publishers got rich (including early American presidents) by pirating English works - music, books, etc. This was legal since English copyright was only enforceable within the UK, and any other country didn't have to respect it.

It's only because of the Berne convention on copyright that there are bilaterial treaties regarding copyright enforcement. Of course, it's only the copyright holder that can complain, but it means that the other countries have to listen to the complaint rather than ignoring it.

Re:california copyright laws exist only in calif. (1)

Wootery (1087023) | about 8 months ago | (#45716625)

Of course, it's only the copyright holder that can complain

I don't follow - is this not as it should be?

Or are you saying it's a limitation that there are no 'copyright police' to discover copyright infringements on behalf of copyright holders (contrasting with the way police do look out for burglars on behalf of the people)?

Re:california copyright laws exist only in calif. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45734959)

By law, that's correct - each country only recognizes their copyright and do not generally respect those of other countries

No, that's complete bullshit. You know that Berne Convention you mention later in your comment? That was implemented by most countries by modifying their copyright laws. As a result, in almost all countries, copyright law applies to works regardless of their country of origin.

Re:Google Bows to No Queen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45710741)

You can't do business with someone in the UK without the UK government considering it their jurisdiction, no. That's kinda commonsense.

No, you can have a contract (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45712197)

What makes you think that having to have jurisdiction for the contract in the UK means you can't have one?

Re:Google Bows to No Queen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45712323)

Any European country, AFAIK, requires that in contracts where one part is a company and the other is an individual, the jurisdiction of the contract is the residence of the individual.

This does not apply to contracts where both parties are equal (business to business or individual to individual).

It's definitely the case here in Denmark.

Re:Google Bows to No Queen (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45710487)

I'm amazed that you pretend to have any clue what you're talking about.

Everything this AC has posted is completely and utterly wrong.

Re:Google Bows to No Queen (3, Informative)

Desler (1608317) | about 8 months ago | (#45710497)

Even if I have a presence in the UK, if a block there agreed to be bound by CA law, we have to go there to settle this contract.

No, that would simply make it an illegal contract and it would be nullified.

Re:Google Bows to No Queen (1)

MrDoh! (71235) | about 8 months ago | (#45711935)

In this case though, no money was exchanged between the parties, so... no contract. But that's civil, is this criminal law then? Something for the lawyers.

Re:Google Bows to No Queen (1)

dkf (304284) | about 8 months ago | (#45712143)

In this case though, no money was exchanged between the parties, so... no contract.

Wrong. The characteristic feature of a contract is agreement; money is commonly involved, but is definitely not required. What's more, the service terms of Google would constitute part of a contract of adhesion, and UK courts are very wary of those when they relate to consumers.

Re:Google Bows to No Queen (2)

Desler (1608317) | about 8 months ago | (#45720037)

That's an interesting non sequitur. What crackerjack box did you get your legal degree from?

screw the EULA (2)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 8 months ago | (#45710611)

We see what happens when patent trolls are permitted to establish the venue for trial. East Texas, baby! The judges are in our pocketses, Precious!

As has already been pointed out, no contract trumps the law. No law permits you to effectively strip me of my rights by making it difficult (or possibly even impossible) to get to the court of your choosing. No law allows one court jurisdiction to rule the world. Google cannot write any contract or EULA that trumps British law.

They MIGHT be able to introduce California law into cases heard in Great Britain. I say, they MIGHT. They would have to argue the case, point by point, and wait for decisions on each point, to be made by the judge in the case, IN BRITAIN!!

Screw all those pencil necked needle dick freaks in corporate lawyer suits.

That said, I tend to side with Google, because, most of the time they are more right than other corporations. It's to bad that Google can't understand that unwanted tracking is unethical and immoral. To bad they don't understand that it should be illegal as well. If you want to track me, but I object, go get a warrant from a judge.

Wait, what? Google has no standing with which to get a warrant?

Case closed.

Re:Google Bows to No Queen (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 8 months ago | (#45716779)

Google vs. the UK? The House is giving odds favoring UK. The last time I was in the UK, the Tower was still there, and was operational.

Re:Google Bows to No Queen (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about 8 months ago | (#45712833)

which is exactly why East Texas has such a good business deciding patent cases. If its good enough for intra-US lawsuits, its good enough for cross-border ones too.

And besides, it never stopped the US from prosecuting people it considers might have violated american laws, like online gambling, no matter where in the world they live.

Re:Google Bows to No Queen (1)

currently_awake (1248758) | about 8 months ago | (#45715849)

Now we get to find out if their terms of service "contract" is legally able to force a change of venue to California, for actions that occurred in England.

Re:Google Bows to No Queen (3, Funny)

hguorbray (967940) | about 8 months ago | (#45709777)

Tracking Suits are for Chavs http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chav

-I'm just sayin'

Re:Google Bows to No Queen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45709915)

+1 LOL

Re:Google Bows to No Queen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45710457)

Why should one pay more than legally required?

Re:Google Bows to No Queen (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 8 months ago | (#45716709)

I still trying to wrap my head around the part where the EU's, and the UK's Laws are secondary to California Laws? Since when did California become responsible for that mess? Californians have enough problems to solve out here. Like the Bullet Train, the Kings River Delta, and Daylight Savings Time.

Upper Camel Case Confuses Parts Of Speech (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45709755)

I read this headline as 'Google seeks to dispose of a suit (wearable) invented in the UK and intended to be used for tracking [animals] by people on safari' which made me wonder why Google would toss a (potentially) perfectly good stealth tracking suit. I wish I had a safari tracking suit...

Good courtroom strategy is sometimes lousy PR (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45709765)

Microsoft learned this in the '90s, and paid the price in the 2000's when nobody would partner with them on phones.

Now it's Google's turn. Their making this type of argument looks really bad.

What does it take to form a country? (2)

jennatalia (2684459) | about 8 months ago | (#45709805)

Could Google form its own floating country and abide by their own rules?

Re:What does it take to form a country? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45709929)

Yeah, it's called the "US", and Google already owns it and abides by its own rules.

It's not floating, however - but stuck to the bedrock from the weight. That last joke was brought to you by Europeans, who notice correctly that Americans are fat.

Re:What does it take to form a country? (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 8 months ago | (#45711627)

Not really. They could but only to the extent other countries recognized them as a country and even then, only to the extent their transactions are viewed to be within that country.

The problem is if you buy something online, did you buy it in your country or the sellers. That even gets muddled when you send it to my country and i use it. Am i using it in my country or yours. This is where a strong military and economic advantage comes into play. If you have the military might, you can enforce it being in your country. Absent that, economics come into play. Would it benefit you forcing jurisdiction if it meant you could no longer import or export to the other country. How about if it makes doing so more expensive through taxing. But back to the earlier theme, what do i care if another country is mad at me if it possesses neither might or economic leverage and i do. I could just impose jurisdiction on them or ignore them altogether.

Screw Google.. (0)

UPZ (947916) | about 8 months ago | (#45709839)

Bottom line: Google answers to the Chinese legal system (when it comes to censorship) but not to the British legal system (when it comes to privacy).

Wow just WOW (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45709923)

Bottom line: Google answers to the Chinese legal system (when it comes to censorship) but not to the British legal system (when it comes to privacy).

Ironically Google stood alone in fighting China and refused to censor...for a whole host of reasons(well China hacked them). It is an embarrassment they were left in the cold by the likes of Apple/Microsoft who do evil.

Its market share in China is now 1.7% The Wikipedia here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_China#Ending_of_self-censorship covers most of the saga.

Re:Wow just WOW (3, Informative)

Desler (1608317) | about 8 months ago | (#45710259)

Ironically Google stood alone in fighting China and refused to censor...

That is quite an interesting rewriting of history. Google was censoring the results on the mainland China page starting in 2006 [bbc.co.uk] up until to 2010. They only stopped censoring in Jan 2010 in response to the Chinese hack attack against them

Re:Wow just WOW (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 8 months ago | (#45710517)

And to add, as the story notes they were self censoring the results.

Do No Evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45709849)

They utilized an exploit to track Safari users on purpose. Google has falled.

Re:Do No Evil (-1, Troll)

cheater512 (783349) | about 8 months ago | (#45710077)

Hardly an exploit. I'd give 'loophole' to you. Not really Google's fault if Safari left a massive gaping hole in their third party cookie code.

Re: Do No Evil (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45710287)

What a prime example of a gSheep. Apologizing Google with inappropriate arguments.

A burglar will defend itself with "hey it's not my fault the owners are not living in Fort Knox.

A carjacker will say "hey it's not my fault the door was not locked".

A theft will say "hey it's not my fault the goods were not bolted to the ground. "

Using your special kind of stupidness all three would be totally innocent.

What's wrong with you guys?
Stop pretending Google is above law. Stop pretending they are innocent and can do no bad and evil things.

Google is guilty. End of.

Re: Do No Evil (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45711745)

No they're not, you stupid Microsoft shill.

Re:Do No Evil (2)

Desler (1608317) | about 8 months ago | (#45710483)

Bullshit. You're still a thief even if my house happened to be unlocked at the time.

Re:Do No Evil (2)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 8 months ago | (#45710623)

I'm generally a fan of Google, but in this case they're way off base and should just admit they're wrong and pay the fine.

Re:Do No Evil (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45711277)

Do more research and learn how evil the company is and the people who run it! They do shit behind the scenes and are sneaks or should I say snakes in the grass!

Re:Do No Evil (1)

cheater512 (783349) | about 8 months ago | (#45711995)

I don't quite get why they are getting fined for something that was allowed by nearly every other browser.

Do the police like using Safari or something?

Its not like the Safari cookie policies are law.

Where the crime was committed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45709867)

The crime itself was committed wherever the Safari browser was executed, be it in the UK, US, or elsewhere. That is where the act was done and that is where it should be punished.

Re:Where the crime was committed. (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 8 months ago | (#45710209)

If that's the case, just wait till there is a trial in one of those countries that cut off your hand for stealing...

Postpone the pitchforks and torches for a moment.. (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 8 months ago | (#45709899)

This is simply a legal maneuver. The UK court is unlikely to approve such a request, and even though IANAL, I suspect old Google has several very competent attorneys behind this motion. When one is a defendant in the courtroom, it is prudent to ask for advantage at every opportunity.

Safari Suit with GPS tracking? (1)

Jack Griffin (3459907) | about 8 months ago | (#45710175)

When I read the headline I thought Google had developed a Safari Suit with inbuilt GPS tracking, and they were trying to throw it away...

Merkin law is all over but merkins obey no laws? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45710311)

How about they just obey the law in a country they operate in, and while they're there they could pay their fucking taxes too. >:(

How's that again? (3, Funny)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 8 months ago | (#45710395)

Re:How's that again? (1)

styrotech (136124) | about 8 months ago | (#45710575)

Thank you. I have to admit the only reason I opened this thread was because I was hoping someone would do something like that.

Typical American attitude (0)

msobkow (48369) | about 8 months ago | (#45710427)

Typical American attitude. Our laws and ideals apply everywhere. We are the world.

Every company that sells products in a region has to meet the standards of the region to sell their products. Why should software services be treated any differently?

You want to do business in China, you follow Chinese law. You want to do business in the UK, you follow UK law.

You don't want to follow the local laws, you don't get to do business.

Plain and simple.

Re:Typical American attitude (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 8 months ago | (#45711641)

If you didn't want to limit your legal remedies to those available in a certain area, then why did you agree to doing so in the first place? Was it an intentional act of fraud in order to benefit from what you otherwise couldn't?

This isn't something that just got made up. Its part of the license agreement people agree to in order to install the software. I don't see google winning but i find the outrage being shown to be very uninteligent and lacking.

Re:Typical American attitude (1)

carou (88501) | about 8 months ago | (#45712135)

If you didn't want to limit your legal remedies to those available in a certain area, then why did you agree to doing so in the first place? Was it an intentional act of fraud in order to benefit from what you otherwise couldn't?

This isn't something that just got made up. Its part of the license agreement people agree to in order to install the software.

What license agreement? The only installed software in this discussion in Safari.

uninteligent

Speak for yourself.

Re:Typical American attitude (1)

msobkow (48369) | about 8 months ago | (#45712215)

Look, with every product in the world, you are subject to the terms, conditions, and legal system in place where the product is used/sold.

Software services should be no different. If you don't like the terms of a particular nation, block their users from using your service.

If a Japanese car's brake system fails in the US (like Toyota), they get sued where the cars were sold, not where the cars were manufactured.

Re:Typical American attitude (1)

msobkow (48369) | about 8 months ago | (#45712245)

The same approach applies to patent, trademark, and copyright laws.

Why in the world should software services be treated as the only exception in the world except to satisfy American megacorps?

Fuck Google.

Let them fight where their customers are.

Is that valid? There's a good chance it isn't (3, Interesting)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | about 8 months ago | (#45710533)

A lot of people seeing this sort of case ask a question like: can Google really decide where lawsuits must be filed?

I don't know the law about this in England, but in Belgium it seems the answer is: if the judge finds it not to be abusive.

In a case like this, where the "injured" party is financially small and the amount of damages per injured party will also be small, I wouldn't be surprised if Google's clause was found inapplicable.

But as I said, I don't know the relevant law in England. Just saying that besides yes and no, the answer could also be "it depends".

And Remember Kids! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45710629)

Do No Evil!

(Unless it's on your own terms, stated within the boundary of the laws)

Profit!!! (1)

Required Snark (1702878) | about 8 months ago | (#45710761)

In this case we have all three of the steps to profit:

1. Have international web based platform that makes money by breaking laws in other countries.

2. Use your home jurisdiction and lobbying to make you immune from lawsuits.

3. Profit!!!

Mac reality filter time (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45710997)

Mac users say this type of thing cant happen to them. So it must be false. Case dismissed.

Don't be evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45711265)

Don't be evil! Google is the most Evil of them all these days! They are yesterdays Microsoft!

Moot (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45711419)

As of 08:30 EST in a meeting within the White House, Dr. Eric Schmidt will be informed by President Obama that he and the other CEOs are the sole property of the President Of The United States Of America President Barak Hussein Obama.

They have .. NO rights.

They have ... NO wealth.

They have ... Mr. Obama ... as their Lord and Trustee ... till death do part ... amen, the Lovely Departed.

Safari Suit... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45711441)

My first thought after reading Headline was that Google came up with a new revolutionary uniform (wear, suit) for Safari travelers/hunters, obsoleting the brittish traditional one.

uhh... (1)

BringsApples (3418089) | about 8 months ago | (#45711617)

So, and I'm just going by American laws, but... why not go ahead with the courtroom proceedings? If Google doesn't show up, then the defendants win, and then - hell I don't know what they (the British system) do to those that do not pay up. Go arrest the higher-ups at the local Google office? Extradite the higher-ups from America?

Why is it a different set of rules for big corporations? If this were a case of, person A suing person B, and person B didn't show up to court, and lost, then didn't pay up, what do they do to person B over there?

Re:uhh... (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 8 months ago | (#45711735)

This is a civil case over supposed criminal activities that google has not been charged on in Europe (yet). There will not be any arrests or extradiction because of the lawsuit. But any assests including bank accounts within control/reach of the legal system could be confiscated and converted into payments if Brittish law allows it to happen. If the trial was properly defended, other countries could honor yhe judgement but not likely if it was held in absentia (google doesn't show).

Re:uhh... (1)

BringsApples (3418089) | about 8 months ago | (#45717537)

What the shit, you should have gotten at least one mod point for being Informative. Thanks!
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