High Court derails Google defence in Safari browser stalker cookie brouhaha

Ad giant vows to appeal after privacy warriors score legal win


The High Court in London, England, today rejected Google's claim that the company is not subject to UK data protection laws.

The advertising giant – sued by Brits who allege the company invaded their privacy – tried to argue that Blighty's courts have "no jurisdiction" over it. But the High Court disagreed, and now Google will have to take its fight to the Court of Appeal.

Mountain View, which has staff and offices in the UK, has been battling a lawsuit brought last year by Blighty-based Apple users, whose browser habits were slurped – without permission – by Google.

Owners of Apple devices who used Cupertino's Safari browser between September 2011 and February 2012 claim that Google bypassed the surfing tool's security settings to plant a temporary cookie that skimmed information from them to personalise ads, allegedly in violation of British data laws.

But Google told The Register on Thursday that the case was, in its view, without merit.

Mountain View said:

A case almost identical to this one was dismissed in its entirety three months ago in the US.

We still don’t think that this case meets the standards required in the UK for it to go to trial, and we’ll be appealing today’s ruling.

Sitting in the High Court, Mr Justice Tugendhat today dismissed Google's attempts to suffocate the lawsuit. The top beak said England's courts were the "appropriate jurisdiction" to hear the claims brought by a group of Brits that include Judith Vidal-Hall – one-time editor of the Index On Censorship magazine.

The privacy activist said she was happy with the High Court's decision. Another claimant in the case, Marc Bradshaw, commented:

If Google starts to respect privacy again and participates in this country in a responsible way, our campaign will be unnecessary. Until then, our fight continues – in the English courts, in the media, in Parliament and online. Our message to Google is clear: stop abusing your users.

Apple customers in the US brought legal action against Google in 2012 on the same grounds, which inspired a group of Brits to open proceedings against the company in Blighty.

The ads giant 'fessed up to the cookie gaffe in early 2012 after a law student and security researcher spotted the flaw in the software. Google removed the tracking code that had targeted Safari.

An investigation by the US Federal Trade Commission in August of that year led to a measly $22.5m fine being dished out to Google for its privacy slip-up.

On 19 November last year, the Wisconsin Attorney General ordered Google to cough an additional $17m to be shared out among 37 states and the District of Columbia. ®


Other stories you might like

  • Ransomware encrypts files, demands three good deeds to restore data
    Shut up and take ... poor kids to KFC?

    In what is either a creepy, weird spin on Robin Hood or something from a Black Mirror episode, we're told a ransomware gang is encrypting data and then forcing each victim to perform three good deeds before they can download a decryption tool.

    The so-called GoodWill ransomware group, first identified by CloudSEK's threat intel team, doesn't appear to be motivated by money. Instead, it is claimed, they require victims to do things such as donate blankets to homeless people, or take needy kids to Pizza Hut, and then document these activities on social media in photos or videos.

    "As the threat group's name suggests, the operators are allegedly interested in promoting social justice rather than conventional financial reasons," according to a CloudSEK analysis of the gang. 

    Continue reading
  • Microsoft Azure to spin up AMD MI200 GPU clusters for 'large scale' AI training
    Windows giant carries a PyTorch for chip designer and its rival Nvidia

    Microsoft Build Microsoft Azure on Thursday revealed it will use AMD's top-tier MI200 Instinct GPUs to perform “large-scale” AI training in the cloud.

    “Azure will be the first public cloud to deploy clusters of AMD's flagship MI200 GPUs for large-scale AI training,” Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott said during the company’s Build conference this week. “We've already started testing these clusters using some of our own AI workloads with great performance.”

    AMD launched its MI200-series GPUs at its Accelerated Datacenter event last fall. The GPUs are based on AMD’s CDNA2 architecture and pack 58 billion transistors and up to 128GB of high-bandwidth memory into a dual-die package.

    Continue reading
  • New York City rips out last city-owned public payphones
    Y'know, those large cellphones fixed in place that you share with everyone and have to put coins in. Y'know, those metal disks representing...

    New York City this week ripped out its last municipally-owned payphones from Times Square to make room for Wi-Fi kiosks from city infrastructure project LinkNYC.

    "NYC's last free-standing payphones were removed today; they'll be replaced with a Link, boosting accessibility and connectivity across the city," LinkNYC said via Twitter.

    Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine said, "Truly the end of an era but also, hopefully, the start of a new one with more equity in technology access!"

    Continue reading
  • Cheers ransomware hits VMware ESXi systems
    Now we can say extortionware has jumped the shark

    Another ransomware strain is targeting VMware ESXi servers, which have been the focus of extortionists and other miscreants in recent months.

    ESXi, a bare-metal hypervisor used by a broad range of organizations throughout the world, has become the target of such ransomware families as LockBit, Hive, and RansomEXX. The ubiquitous use of the technology, and the size of some companies that use it has made it an efficient way for crooks to infect large numbers of virtualized systems and connected devices and equipment, according to researchers with Trend Micro.

    "ESXi is widely used in enterprise settings for server virtualization," Trend Micro noted in a write-up this week. "It is therefore a popular target for ransomware attacks … Compromising ESXi servers has been a scheme used by some notorious cybercriminal groups because it is a means to swiftly spread the ransomware to many devices."

    Continue reading
  • Twitter founder Dorsey beats hasty retweet from the board
    As shareholders sue the social network amid Elon Musk's takeover scramble

    Twitter has officially entered the post-Dorsey age: its founder and two-time CEO's board term expired Wednesday, marking the first time the social media company hasn't had him around in some capacity.

    Jack Dorsey announced his resignation as Twitter chief exec in November 2021, and passed the baton to Parag Agrawal while remaining on the board. Now that board term has ended, and Dorsey has stepped down as expected. Agrawal has taken Dorsey's board seat; Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor has assumed the role of Twitter's board chair. 

    In his resignation announcement, Dorsey – who co-founded and is CEO of Block (formerly Square) – said having founders leading the companies they created can be severely limiting for an organization and can serve as a single point of failure. "I believe it's critical a company can stand on its own, free of its founder's influence or direction," Dorsey said. He didn't respond to a request for further comment today. 

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022