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Posts Tagged ‘Lawsuit’

Google Faces UK Class Action Lawsuit Over Secret iPhone Tracking

In Big Brother, News, OpBigBrother, Other Leaks, Science & Technology, UK on January 28, 2013 at 11:30 AM

01/27/2013

Google is facing a fresh privacy battle in the UK over its alleged secret tracking of the internet habits of millions of iPhone users.

An estimated 10 million Britons could have grounds to launch a privacy claim over the way Google circumvented Apple’s security settings on the iPhone, iPad and desktop versions of its Safari web browser to monitor their behaviour.

At least 10 British iPhone users have started legal proceedings and dozens more are being lined up, according to Dan Tench, the lawyer behind the action at the London-based firm Olswang.

“This is the first time Google has been threatened with a group claim over privacy in the UK,” he said. “It is particularly concerning how Google circumvented security settings to snoop on its users. One of the things about Google is that it is so ubiquitous in our lives and if that’s its approach then it’s quite concerning.”

A letter before action has been sent to Google executives in the US and UK on behalf of two users, including Judith Vidal-Hall, the privacy campaigner and former editor of Index on Censorship. Another 10 are preparing to launch proceedings, and plans are afoot for a group to form an umbrella privacy action.

The legal action comes just months after Google was hit with a $22.5m (£14m) fine in the US over a privacy breach between summer 2011 and spring 2012.

Google has admitted it intentionally sidestepped security settings on Apple’s Safari web browser that blocked websites from tracking users through cookies – data stored on users’ computers that show which sites they have visited. Security researchers revealed last February that Google’s DoubleClick advertising network intentionally stored these cookies on users’ computers without their consent.

Although the legal bill for Google is likely to be small compared with last year’s profits of $10.7bn, the damage will be significant given the millions of iPhone users in Britain at the time. The exact figure for compensation is not known and will depend on a number of factors.

Alexander Hanff, a privacy campaigner working on the legal claims, said: “This group action is not about getting rich by suing Google, this lawsuit is about sending a very clear message to corporations that circumventing privacy controls will result in significant consequences. The lawsuit has the potential of costing Google tens of millions, perhaps even breaking £100m in damages given the potential number of claimants – making it the biggest group action ever launched in the UK.”

Lawyers for claimants in the UK have ordered Google to reveal how it used the private information it secretly obtained, how much personal data was taken, and for how long. It is understood the claimants are suing Google for breaches of confidence and breach of privacy, computer misuse and trespass, and breach of the Data Protection Act 1998.

News of the legal action was first reported by the Sunday Times. Vidal-Hall, who could not be reached by the Guardian, was quoted as saying Google was guilty of “electronic stalking”. She added: “It angers me that our data is either being sold or passed on to third parties.”

A Facebook group called Safari Users Against Google’s Secret Tracking has vowed to hold Google to account for the tracking. It said: “Google deliberately undermined protections on the Safari browser so that they could track users’ internet usage and to provide personally tailored advertising based on the sites previously visited. There was no way to know that Google did this. In fact, they made it clear that they did not do this on the Safari browser.”

It continued: “It could mean for many users that surprises such as engagements, presents and holidays were destroyed when partners looked at their computers and saw display ads based on sites previously visited. There are many examples of the inappropriate consequences of such intrusion.”

Google is no stranger to damaging privacy battles, having being censured for snooping on Wi-Fi users with its StreetView cars and the failed launch of its email social network, Google Buzz.

Google declined to comment. A statement it released at the time of the $22.5m fine last July claimed it had “collected no personal information” with the cookies.

Via TheGuardian

Court Dismisses FOIA Lawsuit on Targeted Killings of U.S. Citizens

In Archive, CIA, DOJ, FOIA on January 3, 2013 at 10:14 AM

01/02/2013

A federal judge issued a 75-page ruling on Wednesday that declares that the US Justice Department does not have a legal obligation to explain the rationale behind killing Americans with targeted drone strikes.

United States District Court Judge Colleen McMahon wrote in her finding this week that the Obama administration was largely in the right by rejecting Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and The New York Times for materials pertaining to the use of unmanned aerial vehicles to execute three US citizens abroad in late 2011.

Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, both US nationals with alleged ties to al-Qaeda, were killed on September 30 of that year using drone aircraft; days later, al-Awlaki’s teenage son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, was executed in the same manner. Although the Obama administration has remained largely quiet about the killings in the year since, a handful of statements made from senior White House officials, including Pres. Barack Obama himself, have provided some but little insight into the Executive Branch’s insistence that the killings were all justified and constitutionally-sound. Attempts from the ACLU and the Times via FOIA requests to find out more have been unfruitful, though, which spawned a federal lawsuit that has only now been decided in court.

Siding with the defendants in what can easily be considered as cloaked in skepticism, Judge McMahon writes that the Obama White House has been correct in refusing the FOIA requests filed by the plaintiffs.

“There are indeed legitimate reasons, historical and legal, to question the legality of killings unilaterally authorized by the Executive that take place otherwise than on a ‘hot’ field of battle,” McMahon writes in her ruling. Because her decision must only weigh whether or not the Obama administration has been right in rejecting the FOIA requests, though, her ruling cannot take into consideration what sort of questions — be it historical, legal, ethical or moral — are raised by the ongoing practice of using remote-controlled drones to kill insurgents and, in these instances, US citizens.

“The Alice-in-Wonderland nature of this pronouncement is not lost on me; but after careful consideration, I find myself stuck in a paradoxical situation in which I cannot solve a problem because of contradictory constraints and rules — a veritable Catch-22,” she writes. “I can find no way around the thicket of laws and precedents that effectively allow the Executive Branch of our Government to proclaim as perfectly lawful certain actions that seem on their face incompatible with our Constitution and laws, while keeping the reason for their conclusion a secret.”

Throughout her ruling, Judge McMahon cites speeches from both Pres. Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder in which the al-Awlaki killings are vaguely discussed, but appear to do little more than excuse the administration’s behavior with their own secretive explanations.

“The Constitution’s guarantee of due process is ironclad, and it is essential — but, as a recent court decision makes clear, it does not require judicial approval before the President may use force abroad against a senior operational leader of a foreign terrorist organization with which the United States is at war — even if that individual happens to be a US citizen,” McMahon quotes Mr. Holder as saying during a March 2012 address at Chicago’s Northwestern University. “Holder did not identify which recent court decisions so held,” the judge replies, “Nor did he explain exactly what process was given to the victims of targeted killings at locations far from ‘hot’ battlefields…”

And while both Mr. Holder and Pres. Obama have discussed the killings in public, including one appearance by the president on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, the Justice Department insists that going further by releasing any legal evidence that supports the executions would be detrimental to national security.

While Judge McMahon ends up agreeing with the White House, she does so by making known her own weariness over how the Obama administration has forced the court to rely on their own insistence that information about the attacks simply cannot be discussed.

“As they gathered to draft a Constitution for their newly liberated country, the Founders — fresh from a war of independence from the rule of a King they styled a tyrant — were fearful of concentrating power in the hands of any single person or institution, and most particular in the executive,” McMahon writes.

Responding to the decision on Wednesday, ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer issued a statement condemning the White House’s just-won ability to relieve itself from any fair and honest explanation as to the justification of Americans.

“This ruling denies the public access to crucial information about the government’s extrajudicial killing of US citizens and also effectively green-lights its practice of making selective and self-serving disclosures,” Jameel writes. “As the judge acknowledges, the targeted killing program raises profound questions about the appropriate limits on government power in our constitutional democracy. The public has a right to know more about the circumstances in which the government believes it can lawfully kill people, including US citizens, who are far from any battlefield and have never been charged with a crime.”

The ACLU says they plan to appeal Judge McMahon’s decision and are currently awaiting news regarding a separate lawsuit filed alongside the Center for Constitutional Rights that directly challenges the constitutionality of the targeted kills.

“The government has argued that case should also be dismissed,” the ACLU notes.

In a Wednesday afternoon statement from the Times, assistant general counsel David McCraw says the paper will appeal the ruling as well.

“We began this litigation because we believed our readers deserved to know more about the US government’s legal position on the use of targeted killings against persons having ties to terrorism, including US citizens,” McCraw says.

Although she ruled against the plaintiffs, Judge McMahon, says McCraw, explained “eloquently … why in a democracy the government should be addressing those questions openly and fully.”

Via RT

Attorney for Sandy Hook Survivor Drops $100 Million Lawsuit Against State of Connecticut

In News, Newtown: Sandy Hook School Mass Shooting, USA on January 2, 2013 at 11:02 PM

01/02/2013

An attorney in Connecticut has withdrawn a request to sue the state for $100 million in the wake of the Sandy Hook School shooting after facing strong disapproval from people across the country.

The New Haven attorney represents the family of a six-year-old girl who witnessed and survived the shooting.

The lawyer says the state failed to take steps to protect the children from harm.

After this statement Pinsky received a flurry of comments on his Facebook page blasting the lawsuit and accusing him and his client of trying to profit from last month’s tragedy.

This morning the attorney Irving Pinsky joins CNN’s Starting Point to discuss why he dropped the suit and his plans to file again sometime within the year.

Interview: Scott Olsen on His Lawsuit Against the Oakland Police Department

In News, NWO, Occupy Oakland, Occupy Wall Street, Other Leaks, Police State, USA, World Revolution on December 18, 2012 at 8:57 PM

 

12/15/2012

PoliticalFailBlog:

On October 25th 2011, Iraq War Veteran Scott Olsen was shot in the head with a beanbag round, by the Oakland Police Department, while standing peacefully between demonstrators and police at a protest following the eviction of the Occupy Oakland camp. After a long recovery, and one legal claim against the city rejected, Scott has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the City of Oakland and OPD. The lawsuit identifies Robert Roche as the officer who threw a tear gas grenade at protesters who were trying to come to Scott’s aid that night, as well as 50 “Does”, since the identity of the officer who fired the near lethal shot still remains unnamed.

Political Fail Blog was honored to be invited to Scott’s home in the days after filing the lawsuit, to ask him some questions and get some of his thoughts about the lawsuit, among other things, like the Code of Silence we so often see ingrained in law enforcement and military personnel.

The complaint states “ Defendants’ actions that caused Scott Olsen’s injuries were intentional. Despicable, oppressive, punitive and malicious, and done with a willful and conscious disregard of Mr. Olsen’d rights and safety, justifying an award of punitive damages.”

The lawsuit contains 10 causes of action which include: Excessive Use of Force, Failure to Train, Failure to Supervise, Violation of First Amendment Right to Free Speech, Failure to Provide Medical Treatment, (yes, OPD shot Scott in the head, and then failed to treat or assist in any fashion, in fact, protesters drove him to the hospital), Battery, and Negligence.

As many people wonder what the outcome of the lawsuit will be, as far as compensation for Scott’s health care, and loss of income as a direct result of OPD brutality, we had to ask.

“As far as monetary damages, that’s undetermined and we have several points listed that would be determined during the trial,” Olsen told us.

Scott also also told us that he does not want to settle the suit out of court, and looks forward to taking it to trial in order to hold the police department accountable.

“I really don’t want to settle this lawsuit out and keep quite and get my money. I would rather take it to trial and make a big deal about it and hold them [OPD] accountable,” Olsen added.

Read the law suit here.

Related Links:

Never Forget Scott Olsen. Stay Mad Occupy!

Bergstresser: The Man Who Shot Scott Olsen?

CA Web Users File Class-Action Lawsuits Against Google & Yahoo Over Privacy

In Big Brother, News, NWO, Other Leaks, Police State, Science & Technology, USA, World Revolution on July 2, 2012 at 5:48 PM

07/02/2012

ABC:

Some California residents have filed two class action lawsuits against Google and Yahoo in Marin County Superior Court. The suits, filed on June 12 and June 28, claim that the web giants illegally intercept emails sent from individual non-Gmail and non-Yahoo subscribers to individual Gmail and Yahoo subscribers, without their knowledge, consent or permission. What’s more, they say the interception takes place before the email reaches its intended target.

 

“We began the investigation quite some time ago when a client came to us,” said F. Jerome Tapley, a lawyer in Birmingham, Ala. who represents the plaintiffs. “They noticed that the ads within their email browser were strangely correlating to the incoming email they were getting from their friends. It creeps people out.”

In the suit, Stuart Diamond, of Marin County; David Sutton, also of Marin County; and Roland Williams of Sonoma County — none of whom have personal Google or Yahoo email accounts, but have sent emails to people who do — allege that Google and Yahoo are violating the California Invasion of Privacy Act (CIPA), which prohibits anyone from wiretapping or eavesdropping on emails without the consent, knowledge and permission of all parties.

“The invasion of privacy by wiretapping or, in the alternative, eavesdropping, caused by Google and Yahoo’s! continual and pervasive use of such devices seriously threatens the exercise of personal liberties,” the lawyers write

The suit, which is for unspecified financial damages, was filed on behalf of all residents of California who are not Google or Yahoo email subscribers but have sent emails to people who are.

Yahoo did not respond to requests for comment, but in an email statement a Google spokesperson said, “We’re not going to comment on the ongoing litigation. But to be clear, ad targeting in Gmail is fully automated, and no humans read users’ emails or Google account information in order to show advertisements.”

Perry Litchfield, another plaintiffs’ lawyer in San Rafael, Calif., said he is unimpressed.

“It’s fundamental that computers have to be monitored and operated by people,” he said. What’s more, he added, the lawsuit is not about Gmail users — it’s about the people who send them emails. “Who knows how sophisticated they are? Certainly there are sophisticated ways to determine what you’re thinking as far as advertising is concerned.”

Currently, there are no federal laws specifically governing behavioral advertising on the web, nor is there a comprehensive general privacy law. But last week, Facebook agreed to let users know that when they “like” a product on Facebook, their names and photos can be used to endorse the item. Users will be allowed to decline the opportunity to be unpaid promoters; parents of users under 18 will also get the chance to keep their kids out of ads. Facebook also agreed to donate $10 million to charity, and pay $10 million to cover the plaintiffs’ legal fees.

Tapley said he hopes Google and Yahoo do the right thing, too. “I’d like to see them stop this behavior that’s in violation of the penal code and to compensate people whose privacy they violated.”

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