Google Buzz users on Tuesday should have received a rare email from Google regarding a settlement offer for a class action suit by Gmail users over privacy concerns (if not, check your SPAM box).
"Shortly after its [Google Buzz] launch, we heard from a number of people who were concerned about privacy. In addition, we were sued by a group of Buzz users and reached a settlement in this case," Google wrote in the above mentioned email.
"The settlement acknowledges that we quickly changed the service to address users' concerns. In addition, Google has committed $8.5 million to an independent fund, most of which will support organizations promoting privacy education and policy on the Web. We will also do more to educate people about privacy controls specific to Buzz. The more people know about privacy online, the better their online experience will be," Google said.
This isn't a settlement where Gmail users receive cash, however "everyone in the U.S. who uses Gmail is included in the settlement, unless you personally decide to opt out before December 6, 2010."
The Court will decide on final approval of the settlement agreement on January 31, 2011.
A Florida man has filed suit against Google in response to the Nexus One's 3G signal issues. Nathan Nabors is seeking unspecified damages and class action status for the suit. Manufacturer HTC and original carrier T-Mobile are not listed in the filing. The allegation is that Google made misleading claims about the Nexus One's capabilities, then failed to adequately resolve issues when they cropped up.
Google started selling the Nexus One direct to consumers in early 2010. At the time, the phone had only T-Mobile US 3G bands. Consumers reported issues in getting, or holding on to, 3G frequencies in areas that other phones had no problem. After a software update, Google declared the problems fixed, saying that any further issues were on T-Mobile's end.
It's unclear if a judge will eventually grant class action status to the suit. If so, Nexus users might get a check for $10 in 2-3 years. The lawyers managing the case however, will probably do much better. If you have a Nexus One, let us know how your 3G is these days.
Show of hands, who didn't see this one coming? Anyone? Like you, your neighbor, the local convenience store owner, and even little Billy who's more interested in what SpongeBob is up to than the world of tech, we could see the class action lawsuit(s) coming, and they've now arrived.
Defect in Design, Manufacture, and Assembly (Apple)
Breach of Express Warranty (Apple)
Breach of Implied Warranty for Merchantability (Apple and AT&T)
Breach of Implied Warranty of Fitness for a Particular Purpose (Ajpple and AT&T)
Deceptive Trade Practices (Apple and AT&T)
Intentional Misrepresentation (Apple and AT&T)
Negligent Misrepresentation (Apple and AT&T)
Fraud by Concealment (Apple AT&T)
Lawsuits over the iPhone 4's well documented antenna problems have also come from Washington, Massachusetts, and probably a few other places. One of the suits says "the refusal of Apple and AT&T to both acknowledge and offer to fix users' phones is incredulous."
For those of you who may have been abducted by aliens and just now returned to Earth, Apple has been catching heat for what many are saying is a defect in the iPhone 4's design that causes the device to lose a signal when covering the antenna, most often when holding it with the left hand. Steve Jobs called it a "non issue" and suggested holding the device a different way.
As many expected would happen, Sony has been handed a class action lawsuit for removing the 'Install Other OS' option from its PlayStation 3 console starting with the v3.21 firmware released in March.
In the lawsuit, plaintiff Anthony Ventura argues that "Sony's decision to force users to disable the Other OS function was based on its own interest and was made at the expense of its customers." Ventura also alleges deceptive business practices "perpetrated on millions of unsuspecting customers."
"On information and belief, contrary to Sony's statement, the 'security concerns' did not involve a threat to PS3 users, but rather reflected Sony's concerns that the Other feature might be used 'hackers' copy and/or steal gaming and other content," the lawsuit reads.
At the time of its release, Sony said the firmware update was optional, but any users who refused to install it would lose key features, like the ability to sign into the PlayStation network. Making matters worse, Sony soon followed up with yet another firmware update -- version 3.30 -- which was described as mandatory.
Anyone who purchased a PS3 between November 17, 2006 and March 27, 2010 and did not sell their console is eligible to participate in the suit.
This goes to provide the old adage: you snooze, you loose. In this case if you ‘snoozed’ on Skype for six months, you’d loose any money you might have put into your Skype account. Up until now, anyway. Skype was caught with its hands in your till, and has agreed to pay (some of) the money back.
It’s a simple thing really. Skype is cheap. Calls to land phones (SkypeOut) are about the only thing you pay for, but even those are cheap. Those who made such calls would have to first deposit money into their Skype accounts. Problem is, it’s really hard to spend even a pittance. So your money would sit--safe and secure, like in a savings account. Or so you thought.
If there was no activity on your Skype account for 180 days, Skype decided to assume your account was abandoned and would take the money. There one day, gone the next. But that didn’t sit well with a group of consumers who filed a class action lawsuit. The lawsuit was based on state laws regulating gift cards. Skype’s action was really no different from retailers who sold you a gift card, and later charged fees, or ‘expired’ the balance if it wasn’t used in a period of time. Unfortunately for Skype, many state laws forbid this, and these consumers alleged Skype was in violation.
It seems that Skype agrees, at least to the tune of $1.85 million, which it will put up to settle the class action. Skype users who purchased Skype Credit prior to December 31, 2009 are eligible for up to a $4 credit to their account if Skype took their money due to inactivity. (Which isn’t much solace if you had more than $4 in your account.) Skype has also said it’s discontinuing this practice--your Skype Credit is now safe, even from Skype.
The lawyers at AT&T have got fantastic job security. Last year, the telco giant was sued over ringtones, internet speeds, and lack of features. The first AT&T lawsuit of 2010 could be a doozie: charging its customers fake taxes.
Yep, you heard it right. AT&T has been collecting sales tax on its iPhone users’ data plans, which is a no-no according to the federal Internet Tax Freedom Act. The act bans most taxes on internet access, which arguably includes the iPhone data plan, until the legislation is up for renewal in 2014. However, like any other law, it can be (and is) interpreted and enforced in different ways throughout the country.
The lawsuit has been filed in Georgia, Indiana, and Alabama where an individual agreed to bring the complaint to a judge. The lawyers at Bartimus, Frickleton, Robertson and Gorny hope the judge certifies the case as a class action lawsuit, which will get far more people involved.
You may have noticed the name RockYou on some popular apps found on leading social networking sites Facebook and MySpace. The Redwood City-based company was founded in 2006 and currently ranks among the world's top social networking app developers. However, paying tribute to RockYou's precious contribution to the social web is not the subject of this story.
The app developer has vowed to defend itself “vigorously” and dismissed allegations that user privacy does not figure on its list of priorities. But a spokesperson for the company refused to comment any further on the allegations during an interview with Wired.
It's all fun and games, until that game you downloaded from the iTunes App Store turns out to be harvesting your cell phone number. That's what gaming developer Storm8 has been accused of doing.
"The wireless telephone numbers of users' phones are not used or necessary to play any of Storm8's games, yet Storm8 has written the software for all its games in such a way that it automatically accesses, collects, and transmits the wireless telephone number of each iPhone user who downloads any Storm8 game," states a lawsuit filed on behalf of Lynwood, Washington resident Michael Turner.
Storm8 first came under fire in late August when news reports pointed out that Storm8's apps appeared to be phoning home. Addressing the reports, the company said the system had a "bug" and that it has since been fixed. But Storm8's explanation isn't enough for Turner's lawyer, who says his goal is to ensure the company is no longer allowed to collect private data in the future.
"A public admission is not the same as a legal representation or legal injunction," Turner's lawyer said.