Archive for the ‘lawsuits’ Category

Justice Dept. files long-awaited antitrust suit against Google

October 20th, 2020
Will the sun ever set on the Google empire?

Enlarge / Will the sun ever set on the Google empire? (credit: 400tmax | Getty Images)

The Department of Justice today filed a landmark antitrust suit against Google, alleging that the company behaved anticompetitively and unfairly pushed out rivals in its search businesses.

A company does not have to be a literal monopoly, with no available competition of any kind, to be in violation of antitrust law. The law is instead primarily concerned with what a company does to attain dominance and what it does with that dominant position once it's at the top. And according to the DOJ's complaint (PDF), Google did indeed abuse its outsized market power to tilt the playing field in its favor and keep potential rivals out.

"Google is the gateway to the Internet," Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said in a call with reporters. "It has maintained its power through exclusionary practices that are harmful to competition."

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Posted in Alphabet, antitrust, Competition, department of justice, DOJ, google, Justice Department, lawsuits, Policy | Comments (0)

Trump likely overstepped authority with TikTok ban, judge rules

September 28th, 2020
TikTok logo next to inverted US flag.

Enlarge / TikTok's US fate is up in the air, but at least you can still download and patch it. (credit: SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images)

President Donald Trump's attempt to ban TikTok from operating inside the United States probably exceeds the authority the president has to do such things, a federal judge has ruled.

TikTok narrowly avoided being removed from app stores last night when Judge Carl Nichols of the US District Court for DC issued an injunction late yesterday requiring the government to pause on its ban. TikTok got its reprieve, but the terms of the order (PDF) were sealed until midday today.

To meet the standard for an injunction, Nichols explained, TikTok basically needed to prove four things to his satisfaction. The first factor, however, is the most important: TikTok needed to prove its case is "likely to succeed on the merits." In plain English, that means: is it going to win its lawsuit against the administration? And the answer, Nichols determined, is probably yes, because the actions the administration took "likely exceed the lawful bounds" of the law under which those actions were taken.

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Posted in bans, bytedance, lawsuits, Policy, prohibitions, tiktok, Trump, White House | Comments (0)

Alphabet, shareholders settle in lawsuits over sexual harassment at Google

September 25th, 2020
Google's corporate headquarters.

Enlarge / Google's corporate headquarters. (credit: Alex Tai | SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images)

Alphabet, Google's parent company, said today it has settled a set of shareholder lawsuits related to the company's handling of sexual harassment claims. Alphabet will commit $310 million to corporate diversity programs over the next decade, and the company agreed to allow its board to take on a greater oversight role in misconduct cases.

As part of the new agreement, Alphabet will expand on its current policy of "prohibiting severance for anyone terminated for any form of misconduct," to include anyone who is currently under investigation for "sexual misconduct or retaliation," Google VP of People Operations Eileen Naughton said in a company blog post.

The settlement is the outcome of a consolidated set of lawsuits investor groups filed against Alphabet in California in 2018, alleging that the company breached its fiduciary duty to shareholders when it retained, and handsomely paid off, male executives credibly accused of sexual harassment. (Other shareholder suits, in federal court and in Delaware, are still in progress, according to the New York Times.)

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Posted in Alphabet, Biz & IT, google, investors, lawsuits, Policy, Settlements, sexual harassment, shareholders | Comments (0)

Google could face federal, state antitrust suits next week, reports say

September 22nd, 2020
Google's in everything. Perhaps too much everything, regulators now worry.

Enlarge / Google's in everything. Perhaps too much everything, regulators now worry. (credit: Omar Marques | SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images)

Multiple investigations into Google parent Alphabet's competition practices may finally be reaching a head, as state and federal regulators meet today to plan next steps for one or more lawsuits against the company.

Attorneys from the Department of Justice are meeting today with attorneys general from several different states about imminent plans to file an antitrust suit against Google, The Washington Post and Bloomberg report.

The DOJ began its antitrust probe of "market-leading online platforms" a little more than a year ago, without naming names. Google was widely assumed to be one of the targets, and the company confirmed last September that it was indeed under investigation.

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Posted in Alphabet, antitrust, department of justice, DOJ, google, Justice Department, lawsuits, Policy | Comments (0)

YouTube unlawfully violates kids’ privacy, new $3.2B lawsuit claims

September 14th, 2020
A sign featuring the YouTube logo, outside the YouTube Space studios in London on June 4, 2019.

Enlarge / A sign featuring the YouTube logo, outside the YouTube Space studios in London on June 4, 2019. (credit: Olly Curtis | Future | Getty Images)

A new lawsuit filed in a United Kingdom court alleges that YouTube knowingly violated children's privacy laws in that country and seeks damages in excess of £2.5 billion (about $3.2 billion).

A tech researcher named Duncan McCann filed the lawsuit in the UK's High Court and is serving as representative claimant in the case—a similar, though not identical, process to a US class-action suit. Foxglove, a UK tech advocacy group, is backing the claim, it said today.

"YouTube, and its parent company Google, are ignoring laws designed to protect children," Foxglove wrote in a press release. "They know full well that millions of children watch YouTube. They’re making money from unlawfully harvesting data about these young children as they watch YouTube videos—and then running highly targeted adverts, designed to influence vulnerable young minds."

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Posted in Alphabet, children, children's online privacy, children's privacy, foxglove, google, lawsuits, Policy, Privacy, uk, YouTube | Comments (0)

Unredacted suit shows Google’s own engineers confused by privacy settings

August 25th, 2020
Unredacted suit shows Google’s own engineers confused by privacy settings

Enlarge (credit: Sean Gallup | Getty Images)

Newly unsealed and partially unredacted documents from a consumer fraud suit the state of Arizona filed against Google show that company employees knew and discussed among themselves that the company's location privacy settings were confusing and potentially misleading.

In 2018, the Associated Press reported that Maps and some other Google services (on both iPhone and Android) were storing users' location data even when users had explicitly turned Location History off.

"There are a number of different ways that Google may use location to improve people’s experience, including: Location History, Web and App Activity, and through device-level Location Services," a Google spokesperson told the AP at the time. "We provide clear descriptions of these tools, and robust controls so people can turn them on or off, and delete their histories at any time."

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Posted in Arizona, data privacy, google, lawsuits, location tracking, Policy | Comments (0)

Anti-vaccine group sues Facebook, claims fact-checking is “censorship”

August 18th, 2020
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., heads up to a meeting at Trump Tower on January 10, 2017 in New York City.

Enlarge / Robert F. Kennedy Jr., heads up to a meeting at Trump Tower on January 10, 2017 in New York City. (credit: Spencer Platt | Getty Images)

A notorious anti-vaccine group spearheaded by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. filed suit today in federal court in California alleging that Facebook's fact-checking program for false scientific or medical misinformation violates its constitutional rights.

Children's Health Defense claims in its suit (PDF) that Facebook, its CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and the organizations Science Feedback, Poynter, and PolitiFact acted "jointly or in concert with federal government agencies" to infringe on CHD's First and Fifth Amendment rights. The suit also alleges Facebook and the fact-checking organizations colluded to commit wire fraud by "clearing the field" of anti-vaccine ads.

Facebook has "insidious conflicts with the pharmaceutical industry and its captive health agencies," CHD claimed in a press release. "Facebook currently censors Children’s Health Defense’s page, targeting its purge against factual information about vaccines, 5G and public health agencies."

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Posted in anti-vaccine, anti-vax, anti-vaxxer, antivax, children's health defense, Facebook, fact checking, facts, lawsuits, Policy, robert f kennedy jr, science, vaccines | Comments (0)

Ousted COO sues Pinterest, alleges rampant gender discrimination

August 12th, 2020
A smartphone against a colorful but blurry background.

Enlarge / A Pinterest logo seen displayed on a smartphone. (credit: Mateusz Slodkowski | SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images)

The former chief operating officer of Pinterest is suing her ex-employer, claiming that the platform's woman-friendly public face is not matched internally and instead "reflects a pattern of discrimination and exclusion."

Pinterest hired Francoise Brougher as chief operating officer in March 2018, then fired her in April of this year. In a lawsuit (PDF) Tuesday in California, Brougher claims that her dismissal was unrelated to her performance and was instead in retaliation for complaining about sexism.

Brougher learned in 2019, while reviewing filings that Pinterest was required to make as part of its IPO, that she had been deliberately misled about executive compensation. She was, therefore, being paid less well than other C-suite executives, the suit alleges. After she brought the discrepancy to the attention of Chief Executive Officer Ben Silbermann, she began being squeezed out of executive and board meetings, Brougher alleged, which prevented her from being able to do her job.

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Posted in Biz & IT, discrimination, gender discrimination, lawsuits, oracle, Pinterest, Policy, Racism, sex discrimination, sexism, soulcycle | Comments (0)

Tesla sues Rivian for stealing secrets as electric car fight heats up

July 24th, 2020
Rivian's R1T truck.

Enlarge / Rivian's R1T truck. (credit: Rivian)

Tesla has sued competitor Rivian for theft of trade secrets. Tesla says that around 70 people have left Tesla for Rivian—including 22 in the last four months. And Tesla claims that several of those employees took confidential documents with them on their way out the door.

Rivian has emerged as perhaps Tesla's most formidable rival among electric vehicle startups. The company announced a $2.5 billion round of fundraising earlier this month—on top of $2.85 billion raised last year. The company is working on a pickup truck, an SUV, and a delivery truck for corporate customers—all powered by batteries. Amazon, a Rivian investor, has already ordered 100,000 of Rivian's delivery trucks.

With a ton of work to do and billions in the bank, Rivian needs to hire at a rapid pace. Unsurprisingly, Tesla workers have been a prime target of Rivian's recruiters. Tesla says it respects Rivian's right to recruit Tesla employees, but it argues that Rivian hasn't been playing fair.

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Posted in cars, lawsuits, Rivian, Tesla, trade secrets | Comments (0)

“Culture of workplace fear” leads to COVID-19 spread at Amazon, suit says

June 4th, 2020
Amazon.com Inc. signage is displayed in front of a warehouse in the Staten Island borough of New York, US, on Tuesday, March 31, 2020.

Enlarge / Amazon.com Inc. signage is displayed in front of a warehouse in the Staten Island borough of New York, US, on Tuesday, March 31, 2020. (credit: Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images)

A group of Amazon employees are suing the company, alleging it mandated unsafe working conditions in one of its fulfillment centers that led to the spread of COVID-19 and deaths resulting from the disease.

"This case is about Amazon's failures to comply with New York law and state and federal public health guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic at the JFK8 facility," the complaint (PDF) reads, alleging, "the company has relied on purposeful miscommunication with workers, sloppy contact tracing, and the culture of workplace fear it has instilled at JFK to ensure it can maintain productivity while reducing costs, even if that means workers come to work sick and cannot engage in proper hygiene, sanitizing, or social distancing while at work in order to stay healthy."

At least one worker at the JFK8 warehouse in Staten Island has died of COVID-19 so far, and several others have fallen ill. As recently as this past weekend, employees at the facility were receiving additional newly confirmed cases at the facility. One of the plaintiffs in the suit alleges that after she contracted the novel coronavirus at work in the warehouse, "she awoke to find her cousin with whom she lived dead in their bathroom" after he developed COVID-19 symptoms. She requested paid quarantine leave from the company under the terms of New York law, the suit says, but Amazon failed to pay her.

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Posted in amazon, Biz & IT, coronavirus, COVID-19, labor, lawsuits, Policy, unsafe work environment, worker rights | Comments (0)