Posts Tagged ‘Google’

Chasing data portability on social media

Data portability mandates on tech companies like Facebook are sometimes conceived as a way to bring about more competitive market structures pleasing to antitrust enforcers by engineering a less “sticky” consumer experience. But is it really much of a solution to anything? [Alex Tabarrok citing Will Rinehart, American Action Forum; more, Tyler Cowen]

May 16 roundup

  • “A Lawyer Who Helped an Exoneree Blow Through $750,000 Is Under Investigation” [Joseph Neff, Marshall Project]
  • Department of State agency accreditation delays help worsen decline in international adoption [Kim Phagan-Hansel, Chronicle of Social Change]
  • Fifth Circuit affirms sanctions award against ADA attorney Omar Rosales over “reprehensible misconduct” including “fabricating evidence” and “fraud on the court.” [Deutsch v. Phil’s Icehouse]
  • Baltimore’s school mismanagement, GOP delegates cool on beer reform, non-citizen voting, Metro subway decay and more in my new Maryland roundup [Free State Notes]
  • Eccentric English judge of olden days: “The Incoherence of Serjeant Arabin” [Bryan A. Garner]
  • “L.A. Lawmakers Looking To Take Legal Action Against Google For Not Solving Long-Running City Traffic Problems” [Tim Cushing, TechDirt on controversy over Waze routing of traffic onto steep-graded street]

Google and Facebook turn away bail bond ads

Two things that can both be true:

1) we should find a better system than cash bail;

2) in the mean time bail bond services provide a needed service for some families.

Or as I put it in my new National Review piece:

This week Google and Facebook announced that they would stop accepting ads for bail-bond services. It’s the perfect moral gesture for our times: It makes a grand statement, keeps pressure groups happy, reminds us that the tech giants have weight to throw around, and leaves its intended beneficiaries no better and perhaps imperceptibly worse off.

I go on to discuss stigmatization as a substitute for policy, which sorts of practices if adopted would probably serve as a substitute for cash bail, and the widely held notion that mass incarceration in the contemporary U.S. arose from a plot to expand business revenue. The piece concludes:

If one is going to be suspicious of mercenary motives in the justice system, I recommend starting with the providers among whom defendants’ families do not get to pick and choose in their hour of need in a relatively competitive market. That would include probation providers and jail phone-call providers — and, yes, some firms involved with private prisons.

Of course, those companies aren’t big advertisers, since the only customer they need to convince is the law-enforcement agency. So Google and Facebook are spared the need to worry about what posture to strike toward them.

Whole thing here. For a different view, here’s Google’s Senior Counsel on Civil and Human Rights writing together with the chairman of Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce and general counsel for Koch Industries. [Malika Saada Saar and Mark Holden]

Supreme Court takes Ted Frank’s Google cy pres case

The Supreme Court has agreed to review Frank v. Gaos, a case in which Ted Frank is objecting to a Google class action settlement. [Barbara Leonard, Courthouse News; Kieren McCarthy, The Register (U.K.)] From the latter piece:

Of the $8.5m that Google has agreed to pay out, not a single cent will go to the actual users whose privacy was violated. It will instead go to the lawyers that brought the case on behalf of those users ($2.125m, no less) and a group of seven organizations that the lawyers, along with Google executives, decided should become “cy pres” recipients.

Those recipients have been controversial from the moment they were named: three of them are law schools, and just so happen to be the same law schools that the lead lawyers went to; and the remaining four are organizations that Google has repeatedly given money to, in large part because they share the same values and goals as Google itself….

His position is quite clear: the use of cy pres – pronounced, fittingly, “sigh, pray” – should be a last resort, and if used, there should be no conflict of interests or even the appearance of a conflict, for those involved in drawing up the list for who gets the money.

Dubious use of cy pres has been a regular topic here at Overlawyered, even before the years when Ted blogged here:

Political pressure on Facebook intensifies

Will revelations over data use by Cambridge Analytica lead to more intense government regulation of Facebook? Julian Sanchez and I talk to Caleb Brown at the Cato Daily Podcast. Separately, Sanchez writes that we shouldn’t expect regulatory micromanagement to do a good job of safeguarding user privacy. “How Cambridge Analytica’s Facebook targeting model really worked – according to the person who built it” [Matthew Hindman, The Conversation] Note that regulation tends to entrench incumbents [Tyler Cowen linking Stratechery (one consequence of outcry is that social media providers may make it harder for users to export their data to other platforms)]

Related: “In Europe, platforms are incentivized to take down first, ask questions second.” [William Echikson, Politico Europe] Pro-censorship UNC professor and New York Times contributing op-ed writer (and what a phrase that is to type) recalls days when media had but one throat to squeeze [David Henderson on Zeynep Tufekci in Wired] How Facebook recently navigated pressures on hosting a group whose leaders were prosecuted under British hate-speech laws [John Samples, Cato] From LBJ and Nixon to Trump and Elizabeth Warren, “regulation is an inherently political act.” So maybe think twice before putting Facebook and Google under the thumb of your worst political foe? [Donald E. Graham]

CCAF contests $8.5 million Google privacy settlement

It’s a cy pres special: members of the injured class will get no part of an $8.5 million settlement Google negotiated with plaintiff’s lawyers over a data privacy lapse. “Instead, the money is to be split among the plaintiffs’ attorneys, who billed their time at $1,000 an hour, and others. The others are cy pres recipients, or organizations that are not parties in the suit: Carnegie Mellon University; World Privacy Forum; the Center for Information, Society and Policy at the Chicago-Kent College of Law; Stanford Center for Internet and Society; Harvard University’s Berkman Center; and AARP Inc.” Ted Frank’s Center for Class Action Fairness is asking the Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari after its objections were turned down by lower courts. [Dee Thompson, Legal NewsLine, earlier here and here (Beck: “cy pres abuse poster child”)]

Plus: Bank of America settlement will now yield cy pres windfall for five University of California law schools of $150,000 rather than $20 million. Easy come, easy go? [ABA Journal]

Free speech roundup

  • Well, he would, wouldn’t he? “De Blasio thinks city-funded news outlets would be ‘more fair’” [Max Jaeger, New York Post]
  • Watch out for Honest Ads Act, which purports to force disclosure of political advertising on the Internet [John Samples, Cato] One effect of campaign donor disclosure mandates is to enable retaliation against those who back “wrong” candidates [Eric Wang, Cato Policy Analysis]
  • Court orders target not to publicize the libel takedown demand letter it got. Fair play? [Volokh]
  • Ken at Popehat is so very unimpressed with Anthony Scaramucci’s defamation suit threat to Tufts student paper. Of course Ken frequently does defend the unimpressive;
  • Complaints about corporate speech in politics subsided as fast as you could say “Patagonia” [Ira Stoll]
  • “Court Says Google Must Unmask Person Who Left Wordless, One-Star Review Of Local Psychiatrist” [Tim Cushing, Techdirt]

Google de-ranking and Washington pressure

After Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California pressured its general counsel at a hearing, Google de-ranked the Russian state media enterprise RT in its search results. As a private company, Google would have been within its rights to arrive at such a decision for reasons of its own. But for it to do so in response to government pressure, as appears to have happened here, poses very real First Amendment problems [John Samples, Cato]