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Google not covered by British privacy laws
how to avoid the law
johnhh




msg:4603077
 8:43 pm on Aug 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

Google has argued that as an American company it is not covered by British privacy laws
[telegraph.co.uk ]

It is difficult to leave a comment on this .. is Google becoming it's own country/state ?

 

g1smd




msg:4603211
 9:48 am on Aug 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

As, presumably, the American courts take no interest in what Google does in other countries, it appears that for all of it's operations outside of the US, Google considers it is accountable to no-one and is above the law.

The creepy line is waaaaay back there in the distance.

I sometimes think about old movies where a corrupt organisation is hell-bent on taking over, but presents a friendly face to the world - only a few people know the truth and engage in trying to stop it. Google more and more reminds me of those stories.

tangor




msg:4603220
 10:20 am on Aug 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

Just business and international, too. No entity (that's a business) will be happy here, there and everywhere. And since international trade is glacial in operation this will take some time to resolve. Pretty sure the Brits are not seeking to kill the golden goose, but we'll have to wait and see.

tbear




msg:4603242
 11:54 am on Aug 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

Google has argued that as an American company it is not covered by British privacy laws


Ah well, that's all right then...........carry on.

Duh!

Webwork




msg:4603310
 3:50 pm on Aug 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

Google.co.uk -> Huh? OR Meh . .

zeus




msg:4603311
 3:57 pm on Aug 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

its as if Europe is the only place where google can not do what ever it wants and in the US it is as always money rules.

seoskunk




msg:4603403
 8:43 pm on Aug 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

A very clever and astute argument......

Lets examine the background, for years CIA has bugged British phones and media escaping the law because they:
1. Share info with MI5
2. Are American

Of course this was reciprocated in the states with MI5 bugging american phones and media.

turbocharged




msg:4603545
 11:35 am on Aug 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

As, presumably, the American courts take no interest in what Google does in other countries, it appears that for all of it's operations outside of the US, Google considers it is accountable to no-one and is above the law.

American based courts, government agencies and politicians don't even care what Google does in the USA.

I would think that operating under a UK branded Google search engine would be enough to prove that while Google is indeed located in the United States, it is operating within the UK and tailoring products/services for UK citizens. And by doing so, they are conducting business within the UK and are responsible for their actions.

Google appears to believe they are not only above the law, but above ethical standards as well. Google needs to get knocked down a few pegs so that their heads are not so stuck in the clouds that they can't see the obvious.

diberry




msg:4603594
 3:59 pm on Aug 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

Uh, if you want to do business in the UK, you follow their laws. This is crystal clear in international law. Sounds like Google's bluffing because they think the UK's only other option is to block Google from operating in the UK, and that the UK cannot afford to do that.

I'm not clear on why the UK can't do that, however. I think if they blocked Google, Google would cave instantly. If the British public suddenly didn't have Google, they would be informed that there are other search engines waiting to help people find websites, and the public would discover that, basically, a search engine's a search engine.

nomis5




msg:4603630
 7:56 pm on Aug 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

Forget the UK thing. This seems to illustrate how scared G are that cookies might be not be allowed in some areas of the world. In the US they apparently went so far as so write software to circumvent safari stopping cookies being written.

Think about it, how different Gs world would be if half the people in the world could, at the press of a button, stop cookies being written. It would seriously dent their business model.

The EU have already had a shot at this but appear to have backed down because the law was so stupidly framed. Maybe in this case the UK will stick to its guns and rather than close G down just stop it circumventing forcing the writing of cookies whenever it feels like it.

johnhh




msg:4603684
 10:18 pm on Aug 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

Um.. I originally posted this as I only saw it mentioned briefly in one UK newspaper, it is now has an article on the BBC website. The case relates to Apple users back in 2011-2012 and a judgement is expected in the Autumn ( UK courts go on holiday a lot !)

A similar case in the US led to a fine for Google.

I cannot perceive, as a UK resident, that a company with offices in the UK is not covered by UK law. That would be like BP saying they not covered by US law.

Man robs bank, opps I am employed in the US. Police: OK then thats OK off you go, sorry to have arrested you.

g1smd - I did find those Gooogle offices in Victoria on the third attempt - looks like they are trying to hide !

Thanks to mod for moving post - my mistake

zeus




msg:4603698
 10:40 pm on Aug 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

The law is crazy, why shall the websites warn for cookies, the easy way is by default deactivate cookies in all browsers and let the user decide on or off.

incrediBILL




msg:4603735
 3:08 am on Aug 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

This is a very simple matter of jurisdiction IMO.

You can operate part of Google in the UK but not all of Google in the UK. If AdSense, which I assume has a separate corporate entity, is in fact wholly US based in it's entirety, then AdSense doesn't fall in any jurisdiction other than the US.

Think about it people, WebmasterWorld is a worldwide operation on the internet and has a huge UK membership but doesn't call within the UK's grasp any more than any other US based website, including Google.

Even the use of a .UK domain name is meaningless IMO otherwise the UK would be requiring everyone that purchased .UK domains, easily done in GoDaddy it seems, to also follow the UK privacy laws but I don't believe that is currently the case.

If the UK wants to make a simple and uniform rule then all UK domain names should be required to follow the UK privacy laws which easily sidesteps the issue of whether or not you're an actual company operating in the UK. If you buy the UK domain you should be required to abide by UK website rules or forfeit the domain after failure to comply with a simple 30-60 day compliance period. Fair for all, simple to administer, and where Google is registered as a company wouldn't mean squat.

However, to the best of my knowledge that isn't the current implementation so they don't have a leg to stand on if it's not.

FWIW, all the big words posted about Google sound grand when it's the big company but if the UK were coming down on smaller individual websites the squealing noises would be deafening. All US webmasters better hope they prevail otherwise we'll all be dumping our UK domains in a hurry!

lucy24




msg:4603739
 3:26 am on Aug 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

This is crystal clear in international law.

Where on earth did you get the idea that international law applies to the US?

diberry




msg:4603847
 3:33 pm on Aug 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

Think about it people, WebmasterWorld is a worldwide operation on the internet and has a huge UK membership but doesn't call within the UK's grasp any more than any other US based website, including Google.


Hmm, my understanding is that if WebmasterWorld was collecting info on British citizens that it was against British law to collect, then the UK could demand that WebmasterWorld stop doing that and/or block UK citizens or something along those lines. I'm not sure there's clear case law on this exact issue, but that's my understanding with brick and mortar stores, i.e., if you don't comply with UK law then you can't ship to UK customers. I believe that would apply here.

Where on earth did you get the idea that international law applies to the US?


Oh, you're right! That idea came from my dream in which unicorns came to earth, taught us how to love each other and heal all disease. ;)

ChanandlerBong




msg:4603981
 12:10 am on Aug 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

and you know what colour those unicorns are?

41 Shades Of Blue

tangor




msg:4603990
 12:42 am on Aug 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

Hmm, my understanding is that if WebmasterWorld was collecting info on British citizens that it was against British law to collect, then the UK could demand that WebmasterWorld stop doing that and/or block UK citizens or something along those lines.

webmasterworld is not like Google in that the folks here JOIN and ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE... ie. they give up some privacy to become members... and AFAIK, webmasterworld does NOT share, sell, or monetize their product. If you speak to the subscription side, once again, it's not like Google's insert of cookies for tracking your ad experience. The WW cookie is for your SITE experience ON THIS SITE.

incrediBILL




msg:4603993
 1:52 am on Aug 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

webmasterworld is not like Google in that the folks here JOIN and ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE


Not everyone joins as many just come, read a message or two, and leave, yet they are probably tracked with a cookie just like they are on every other website on the planet without joining anything.

What's amusing is many can be tracked by IP alone, unless you're using an IP pool like AOL or wireless broadband, because we often don't even need your stinking cookie. ;)

tangor




msg:4604018
 4:50 am on Aug 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

Started to post the WW cookie (to show how minimal), but it's not necessary... WW is not G and the WW cookie is for repeat to this site visitors, not a semi-invasive tracking cookie (Heck, even programs like Spy-Bot know the difference... Spy-Bot listed as an example program which can tell what are tracking cookies and which are not)

Kendo




msg:4604068
 9:58 am on Aug 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

Google has argued that as an American company it is not covered by British privacy laws


Really? When did they move their registered office from Ireland?

lucy24




msg:4604074
 10:09 am on Aug 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

Dublin is subject to British law?

Darn. I knew I shouldn't have bought my world globe at the grocery outlet store.

graeme_p




msg:4604103
 11:54 am on Aug 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

@tangor, does not matter how minimal it is, WW does not follow EU law if it sets cookies without permission or a prominent warning. That may not be what you think the law should say (I think its downright silly myself), but it would be the law if WW was based in the UK.

ANother thing to remember is that Google is not one company, but lots. They the usual Irish tax dodge company, and no doubt others.

The case is about Google's bypassing Apple's Safari on mobile devices default cookie rejection. The question is does that bit of Google's operations have to follow British privacy laws? It may depends on which company way doing it, from where, and what their relationship with the customers tracked was.

Google does have a UK office, so some of what Google does clearly falls under UK jurisdiction (everything done out of that office, at the very least), but that is run by Google UK Ltd, which is a separate company from (although presumably a subsidiary of) Google Inc. which owns google.co.uk.

Does anyone have a link to the actually legal documents? A quick search failed to find them.

incrediBILL




msg:4604205
 7:50 pm on Aug 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

Google does have a UK office, so some of what Google does clearly falls under UK jurisdiction


Exactly the problem with big holding companies with multiple corporations under their umbrella because people don't understand that having a presence in a country doesn't mean that all of the company operations are suddenly covered by that country's law.

I'm of the opinion in for a dime, in for a dollar which is "in for a penny, in for a pound" for the rest of you ;)

The problem IMO is when a company operates under the same name across the board. If it was only known as "Google UK" and not just "Google" then I'd say they were doing it right if everything clearly identified itself by registered jurisdiction but it doesn't and that generic "Google" is probably what will get them into trouble despite the way the corporations are registered because the consumer can't tell the difference.

If the judge knew more about AdWords and AdSense and how it all worked I think Google would have a weaker case because they're selling ads in the UK, have certified AdWords partners in the UK, and websites displaying those AdWords ads aka AdSense. Sure sounds like they're doing business directly in the UK to me.

FWIW, I'm not flip-flopping my opinion It's just that I can see both sides of the issue and I'm not sure yet which side has the strongest cas. In this instance while I think Google is in the right by the letter of the law, I don't think their actions follow the spirit of the law and that could be their downfall IMO.

At least that's how I'd rule if I were a judge. :)

As an AdSense webmaster, I think the whole thing will be a big disaster if the UK manages to strong arm (bully) Google into following their law. All of our sites will start doing crazy things like asking about cookie permissions for UK visitors and only UK people will see this nonsense so the rest of us won't even know how it impacts our sites or how to deal with it.

It will suck.

johnhh




msg:4604259
 12:24 am on Aug 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

All of our sites will start doing crazy things like asking about cookie permissions for UK visitors and only UK people
Um no sorry - thats EU law , you don't have to have popup's or permissions in the UK, thats just one interpretation, however you do have to state 'this site uses cookies' if you do use them, this can be on other pages, privacy, conditions of use etc. Take for example sites in the Netherlands or Germany, subject to the same laws, they just mention it without popups. What happened was the UK interpretation of the EU law was extreme, this has now been changed.
johnhh




msg:4604265
 12:40 am on Aug 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

Legal Documents are here [googlelawsuit.co.uk...]
High Court of Justice Queens Bench Division Claim Number HQ13X01328

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