Google was sued on Tuesday in a proposed class action accusing the internet search company of illegally invading the privacy of millions of users by pervasively tracking their internet use through browsers set in “private” mode.
The lawsuit seeks at least $5-billion, accusing the Alphabet Inc unit of surreptitiously collecting information about what people view online and where they browse, despite their using what Google calls Incognito mode.
According to the complaint filed in the federal court in San Jose, California, Google gathers data through Google Analytics, Google Ad Manager and other applications and website plug-ins, including smartphone apps, regardless of whether users click on Google-supported ads.
This helps Google learn about users’ friends, hobbies, favourite foods, shopping habits, and even the “most intimate and potentially embarrassing things” they search for online, the complaint said.
Google “cannot continue to engage in the covert and unauthorised data collection from virtually every American with a computer or phone,” the complaint said.
Jose Castaneda, a Google spokesman, said the Mountain View, California-based company will defend itself vigorously against the claims.
“As we clearly state each time you open a new incognito tab, websites might be able to collect information about your browsing activity,” he said.
While users may view private browsing as a safe haven from watchful eyes, computer security researchers have long raised concern that Google and rivals might augment user profiles by tracking people’s identities across different browsing modes, combining data from private and ordinary internet surfing.
The complaint said the proposed class likely includes “millions” of Google users who since June 1, 2016 browsed the internet in “private” mode.
It seeks at least $5,000 of damages per user for violations of federal wiretapping and California privacy laws.
Boies Schiller & Flexner represents the plaintiffs Chasom Brown, Maria Nguyen and William Byatt.
The case is Brown et al v Google LLC et al, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 20-03664.
By Sarah Evans for News24
Uber faces a class action suit by customers who say they suffered emotional trauma and physical injuries while using its service. Eleven people represented by Ulrich Roux Attorneys will approach the High Court in an effort to pursue a damages claim from the transportation service as a class action.
The class action comes on the back of criminal and civil suits involving people who were harmed, allegedly while using Uber.
In a criminal case, four men are currently facing trial on a number of charges including rape, attempted rape, kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances and attempted murder. They allegedly attacked five Uber users between July and August 2016.
According to the charge sheet, the accused’s modus operandi was for one of them to pose as an Uber taxi driver and pretend to be the driver who received the victim’s Uber request. But he was not the driver linked to the victim’s Uber app.
In most of the cases, the other accused would emerge from the boot of the car, through the back seat, and attack the victims, stabbing and raping them in all cases but one, which was an attempted rape. The victims were also robbed of their belongings and made to tell the accused their bank account details.
In the civil case, Roux said that eight people had come forward wanting to claim damages from Uber for incidents that took place while they were using the service.
Safety ‘a top priority’
Roux said that the team of lawyers was drafting an application to have the case certified as a class action, which must be approved by the High Court before it can proceed. He said the team believed that Uber had “vicarious liability” in these incidents, as it advertised the service as safe and reliable to use.
Uber told News24 on Thursday that it could not comment on a case that has not yet begun, however, its thoughts remain with the riders affected by these incidents, it said.
“Our thoughts continue to be with the riders and their families, these incidents are deeply upsetting.
“As soon as these incidents were reported we reached out to local authorities and whatever information we could provide was handed over to the police and it was this close collaboration that led to the arrest of the suspect. In cases of this nature we work closely with police to support their investigations,” Uber explained in a statement on Thursday.
The taxi service also wished to clarify that since these incidents, it had undertaken to improve its verification process and safety features for riders and drivers.
“Safety is a top priority for Uber, and has been since our launch in South Africa. We’re committed to doing the right thing and take on our part of the responsibility to increase safety.
“We constantly invest and innovate to raise the bar on safety,” Uber said.
By Jonathan Easton for PCR
Back in January, it was announced that Fujifilm is set to acquire Xerox to create an $18 billion printing monolith but cracks are starting to show.
As reported by The Wall Street Journal, a new lawsuit is claiming that Xerox CEO Jeff Jacobson pursued a deal, even though the company’s board advised him against it.
That board ‘advice’ actually came all the way back in November 2017 because the CEO’s position was under review. The paper appears to have learned this information from an amended suit filed in a New York state court on Sunday by Darwin Deason, a Xerox holder who opposes the deal. Deason claims that the deal ‘undervalues the copier and printer company’.
On Sunday, the company denied the claim, with Xerox Chairman Robert Keegan making a statement that: “Xerox CEO Jeff Jacobson was fully authorized to engage in discussions with Fujifilm and Fuji Xerox on the proposed combination.”
He added that the lawsuit “distorts many of the facts regarding the proposed combination with Fuji Xerox.”
Deason, combined with activist shareholder Carl Icahn, holds a not insignificant 15 per cent of Xerox shares. They are arguing that, from their perspective as shareholders, the deal “disproportionately” favours Fuji.
The lawsuit could also be read as something of a power play from the outspoken Deason who wants to shake up the board.
As Reuters points out: “Deason wants to nominate directors to the Xerox board, despite missing a deadline, arguing in his suit that the current board had made a series of significant decisions and disclosures to stockholders after the nomination deadline.”
The news may come as a shock, with all parties previously appearing delighted at the deal.
Steve Hoover, senior VP and CTO at Xerox, wrote for PCR:
“What is it about the combination that will help our customers? Is it because Xerox and Fuji Xerox perfectly complement each other with our technology? Customers will have access to a broader combined product portfolio and feel confident that they are getting the best product available for them, regardless of where in the world they are—whether it is Boise or Burma, Japan or Jakarta. Additionally, the new Fuji Xerox will have a fully unified supply chain, which will bring the products to our customers seamlessly across the globe faster than ever before.
“The new Fuji Xerox will combine two leaders with world-class technological capabilities and cultures of innovation. Together, we invest nearly one billion dollars in research and product development and will lead the evolution of our industry. We will go beyond print as we know it today and drive change in important areas like inkjet, printed electronics, and printing on three-dimensional objects. In addition, our customers can expect advancements in artificial intelligence and analysis of text, image and video, device security and intelligent workplace assistants.”
E-commerce and media giant Naspers and its pay-TV arm MultiChoice could now be facing a possible class action suit in the US after a law firm there announced it was starting an investigation on behalf of investors into Naspers.
In the latest fallout in the widening scandal involving allegations of corruption, collusion and undue corporate influence from Naspers’ MultiChoice unit to allegedly influence South Africa’s long-stalled digital migration switch from analogue to digital TV, US law firm Pomerantz has launched a search for investors who want to start a class action lawsuit against Naspers.
Pomerantz said its investigation on behalf of Naspers investors concerns whether Naspers and certain of its officers and/or directors have engaged in securities fraud or other unlawful business practices.
In its public statement issued on Tuesday it said: “On December 1, 2017, Naspers reported that its wholly-owned television unit MultiChoice had initiated an investigation into whether improper payments were made to ANN7, a South African news channel owned by the politically-connected Gupta family.
“According to local media, citing leaked emails, MultiChoice substantially increased its annual payment to ANN7 from R50m to R141m over the past two years.
“On this news, Naspers’ American Depositary Receipt price fell $3.05, or 5.58%, to close at $51.60 on December 1, 2017,” Pomerantz said in the statement.
Naspers acknowledged Pomerantz’s statement and told Fin24 on Tuesday that adjustments in global tech markets took place at around the same time Pomerantz highlights.
Naspers re-iterated that it takes the recent media allegations about MultiChoice SA seriously. It however pointed out that MultiChoice SA has many minority shareholders and the responsibility for dealing with the matter lies with the independent MultiChoice SA board.
“The MultiChoice South Africa board has therefore instructed its audit and risk committees to assess whether or not there have been any corporate governance failures at MultiChoice in regard to the ANN7 matter and report back to the board,” Naspers said in an emailed response to questions.
The ecommerce and multimedia giant said it has confidence in the MultiChoice SA board to deal with the matter, following their governance procedures. It said it will verify that the MultiChoice SA board has addressed the matter adequately.
“The MultiChoice Audit & Risk committee has confirmed the action it is taking in response to the allegations in the media. As stated above, once they complete their work following their governance procedures, they will report to the MultiChoice board, and after that has happened the Naspers board will consider whether it is satisfied with the action that the MultiChoice board has taken.”
Source: Thinus Ferreira and Fin24