back to article US court nixes Google's $5.5m court payoff over Safari Workaround – no one affected saw cash

An American appeals court has nixed one of Google's original legal settlements over its infamous privacy-busting Safari Workaround. The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal, based in Philadelphia, ordered a new hearing to take place over the 2017 payoff – $5.5m handed over to Google-backed privacy campaign groups. In an opinion (PDF) …

  1. Tigra 07 Silver badge

    Fck Google

    2010: "Do no evil"

    2019: "Do not get caught"

    1. Nunyabiznes Silver badge

      Re: Fck Google

      Even worse, they probably have a whole accounting division devoted to comparing the cost of hiding what they are doing vs. the cost of paying a fine or settlement vs. the money being made. This enables management to make easy A B C decisions with none of those pesky moral arguments getting in the way.

      If the cost of trying not to get caught is higher than the potential fine, they don't even bother anymore.

      1. aks Bronze badge

        Re: Fck Google

        Makes sense to me. Companies have no morals or conscience. Some humans do.

      2. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Fck Google

        They are probably looking to see if they can write the fine down as a charitable donation!

      3. Tigra 07 Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: Fck Google

        The irony is that in the UK and US there's massive paranoia by the Governments that the Russians are influencing elections...But we have evidence and recordings going all the way to the top that Google is doing it and no politician wants to do fuck all about that.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      "2019: "Do not get caught"

      And pay your wait out at your conditions when you are caught...

      1. ThatOne Silver badge

        Re: "2019: "Do not get caught"

        If you get caught, pay a fine from your left pocket to your right pocket...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fck Google

      To be honest, I didn't believe it in 2010 either - the signs were already visible if you were paying attention.

      Especially people who have been in in IT for a couple of decades immediately spotted the tactics as Google is basically working from Microsoft's script.

  2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Yet people still trust them

    You are the product. Remember that. Your data provides them with income.

    Stop using them directly. Starve the dragon.

    But will people do that or just shrug their shoulders and let Google snaffle their lives.

  3. Detective Emil
    Thumb Up


    This settlement stank to high heaven.

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Re: Good

      In how many of these settlements did an affected end user actually get anything?

      1. aks Bronze badge

        Re: Good

        Most fines go the the relevant government, vary rarely do individuals see any benefit.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Good

          There's a difference between a fine, a punishment arising out of criminal law, and compensation, which these settlements are supposed to be.

          If somebody crashes into your car they may be fined for careless driving - a criminal offence. That's quite separate from your claiming on their insurance - a civil claim.

        2. big_D Silver badge

          Re: Good

          This wasn't a fine, this was a settlement in a civil suit. The money should go to those bringing the case, plus their lawyers... Or, more usually, the lawyers grab the lions share and those affected get a fraction of a cent on the dollar.

  4. Donn Bly

    Who gets the money?

    Since this was a civil matter, not criminal, we can't give those who did it jail time - so what are the other options?

    In order for a individual to claim damages, they have to be able to demonstrate an ACTUAL damage, and putting a cookie on a browser doesn't constitute a monetary damage to the owner or user of the iphone. Even with treble damages, 3 x 0 remains 0 so there wouldn't be any money going to the individuals.

    Without changes to the laws, or misuse of existing law ("honest services fraud" perhaps?) the only people getting any money are the lawyers.

    1. mark l 2 Silver badge

      Re: Who gets the money?

      I agree with the above statement, how would you demostrate you had suffered damage from a cookie being placed on your device, and since it was quite some time ago how would you go about proving it happened in the first place?

      The article also has some contradicting information as it says Google figured out the work around in the early 2000s but then says it was used against iOS devices. There were no iOS devices in the early 2000s. iOS wasn't released until 2007 which I would hardly call early 2000s.

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: work around in the early 2000s

        Was Safari on MacOs then? OS9 -> OSx was about 2002?

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Who gets the money?

      "putting a cookie on a browser doesn't constitute a monetary damage to the owner or user of the iphone."

      They're trespassing on the phone. If someone were to trespass on your land by parking their car on your drive you'd probably feel you had cause to sue them for trespass. At the very least you're suffering damage in that if they'd asked for your agreement you could have charged rent and that amount has been lost to you. In this case they're occupying storage, processing on the phone and traffic on airtime. That's even before we get to the value of the data gathered. And that's only monetary damage which seems to be the only form you recognise. Maybe you don't consider the loss of privacy as a damage; why not?

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Who gets the money?

        I don't think the original post had the viewpoint that this was fine because no damages. I think the point they were trying to make is that it is hard to establish damages in a legal sense, a fact that did not seem to impress the poster. The trespassing and privacy rights are of course the important part for us users, but there isn't a clear way to say that they are worth a certain amount and therefore have those violations charged. That's why cases like these end up getting punitive damages rather than punitive damages and compensation for the value lost. I, like the original commentor and presumably you, would like to see the law fix that so we can get both.

      2. gnarlymarley

        Re: Who gets the money?

        "putting a cookie on a browser doesn't constitute a monetary damage to the owner or user of the iphone."

        They're trespassing on the phone. If someone were to trespass on your land by parking their car on your drive you'd probably feel you had cause to sue them for trespass.

        Ummm, trespassing? The cookie as designed more than 20 years ago, was setup as per RFC2109 to maintain HTTP sessions. It was understood at the time, if you didn't want to accept the "cookie" then you didn't go to that site.

        Fast forward to today, and people insist on trespassing on some company's servers and don't want to accept a "cookie" in exchange. Since your phone is being used to travel to someone else's land. That is not trespassing onto your since your phone is being used to trespass.

        This is more like "Doctor Syntax" has parked their car on on google's property and is trying to refuse to accept the "take-a-number" for standing in line. Though, not necessarily okay on Google's behalf, you might want to get your analogies straight.

        (The reason why I can say this is the browser is moving from page to page, but the server is stationary.)

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Who gets the money?

          I beg to differ. I could go into an argument about whether a cookie can be constituted as an invasion, but I don't have to. Why not? The workaround involved in this legal matter isn't an RFC2109 cookie. Instead, it's a piece of javascript which Google claimed wasn't there. If we want to litigate the "trespass" point made by the original poster, I could argue that, since the code was unknown to the user and executed on their device rather than Google's servers, it is in fact trespass on the phone's system. Once again, however, I don't have to. The case against Google was not about trespassing in the legal sense. They lost the case, and so the legal system would agree that what they were doing was wrong. So I'm afraid I do not think any of your points are accurate.

    3. Evil Scot
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Who gets the money?

      Depends where the offence occurred.

      Here in the UK it is a criminal offence.

  5. MadonnaC

    We need more like this.. Do you think he can take on Equifax next?

    With the 'Record Breaking'(tm) payout from Equifax, the FCC are having to backpedal and ask people not to select the $125, as too many people are selecting the $125, and the FCC have realised that $125*300 million is more than the fine of $700 million (of which, only $31 million is actually available for payout)

    1. Snowy

      Maybe it should have been fine plus pay the compensation?

    2. DiViDeD Silver badge

      Re: $125*300 million is more than the fine of $700 million

      Well, that's easy. Adjust the fine to [number of people who had their details released] * $125.

      Let's face it, they don't even have to ask people to apply - there's plenty of lists of said users available on the Dark Web at very reasonable prices. They could simply add the cost of the list to the fine, job done.

      Lovely Jubbly!

  6. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

    Not enough

    Until one of these companies is actually fined into oblivion they will just keep on doing it, and get better at it in the meantime.

  7. Huw D

    Shouldn't find this funny.

    "Since it came to light, Google has flung literally tens of hours' worth of its annual profits at American regulators and others to make them shut up and go away"

    Found it funny.

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