Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) says that a case being brought against it in British courts should be thrown out because U.K. laws have no jurisdiction over its action, even if British citizens are being directly harmed. Its comments come in response to a class action suit being brought against Google by the group Safari Users Against Google’s Secret Tracking, reports Charlie Osborne on ZDNet.
“Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s position on the law is the same as its position on tax: they will only play or pay on their home turf,” says Judith Vidal-Hall. “What are they suggesting — that they will force Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) users whose privacy was violated to pay to travel to California to take action?”
Google has been fined already by US FTC
Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) has already been fined $22.5 million by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the company is no doubt trying to avoid repeat convictions in every country where it does business. It claims that Safari Users could press charges in the U.S., but forcing all claimants to travel to the U.S. for proceedings would place an extremely high burden on them and create a potentially dangerous precedent that would shield IT companies that break foreign laws.
Notions of legal and tax jurisdiction have yet to catch up with internet-based business models, and Google is pushing for new interpretations to their advantage. If no other countries are able to fine Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) for violating user privacy the FTC fine will amount to about 5 cents per Gmail user.
Google in hot water
Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) has been in hot water after its comments that Gmail users should not expect digital privacy.
“Just as a sender of a letter to a business colleague cannot be surprised that the recipient’s assistant opens the letter, people who use web-based email today cannot be surprised if their communications are processed by the recipient’s ECS provider in the course of delivery,” the company said.
Of course the analogy makes little sense, since Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) isn’t the trusted employee of the person we’re communicating with (well, at least not for most of us). A more accurate analogy would be discovering that the Post Office secretly reads and records every letter it carries, or that the U.S. government was secretly recording every phone call Americans made, not that such a thing would ever happen.