Tech Giants Behaving Badly: Google, Facebook, Cisco, Nokia and Microsoft Under Scrutiny

Tech Giants Behaving Badly

Google’s Canadian Overdose
$500M DOJ Settlement Plus Class Action Suit

Google has entered into a $500 million settlement with the Department of Justice for allowing Canadian pharmacies to advertise in the US.  Google blocked ads from other countries, just not Canada.  The U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island that ran the investigation stressed that this was done with Google CEO Larry Page’s knowledge and it “was a corporate decision to engage in this conduct.”   As a result, Google now faces a shareholder class action.

The action has sparked protests in Canada, with one pharmacists writing:

Jan Drugs believes that access to reliable and affordable medication is a right. . . .  Google should be proud of its’ previous efforts to make the internet a safer place to purchase medications as millions have benefited and Jan Drugs believes that Google being fined is against the interests of Americans and morally wrong. 

Facebook Cited for Violating Click Fraud Standards

A class action lawsuit alleges that:

In spite of contracting with its advertising customers to report  and charge advertisers only for “legitimate clicks,” Facebook has largely eschewed industry standards.  Although an IAB member since at least 2008 and currently on its Board of Directors, Facebook refuses to be audited under IAB criteria, in contrast to other industry leaders. It also has flat out refused to allow any third party to test its wholly internal process for determining the legitimacy  of the hundreds of millions of clicks it charges advertisers for each month. The consequence of this refusal is that Facebook cannot state, let alone “ensure,” that any of the clicks it charges customers for are in fact “legitimate,” which is the very promise at the heart of Facebook’s contractual obligation to its customers. 

Cisco and Nokia Linked to Human Rights Abuses

Nokia is facing negatively publicity after its Trovicor technology has been used to track the location of activists through their mobile phones and record their conversations and text messages in Iran and now Bahrain where activists report being shown copies of their texts during torture sessions.

Cisco faces a federal lawsuit for collaborating with the Chinese government to develop software that would enable it to target religious/dissident groups such as Fulon Gong, with plaintiffs claiming to have documents showing that Cisco pitched its ability to monitor Fulon Gong to the Chinese government.

Microsoft Faces Privacy Class Act

Microsoft’s phone camera application has triggered a class action lawsuit, alleging that the application was designed 

to thwart users’ attempts to prohibit the collection of their geo-locations [and in doing so] Microsoft blatantly disregards its users’ privacy rights, and willfully violates numerous state and federal law.

Microsoft denies this charge.

Toyota Faces Liability for WTF Marketing

As reported previously, a Saatchi campaign for Toyota’s Matrix using “Punk’d” marketing methods that involved repeated email messages that led recipients to believe they were being stalked by a violent British man led to a lawsuit by those victimized as a result.  Toyota was able to invoke the arbitration provisions of the promotion’s terms and conditions to force the dispute to arbitration, but a California appeals court has reversed this conclusion.  

Reasonable readers of the terms and conditions would not have understood that they were agreeing to be victims of a prank or were otherwise agreeing to be subjected to conduct of the kind involved in Your Other You.  

More Info:

Google DOJ Press Release, Google investor sues board over online drug ads, Reuters Canada; Damon Porter, Feds: Google CEO Larry Page Knew About Illegal Ads, PC Magazine;  Canadian Pharmacies React to US Gov’t Taking $500 Million From Google over Their Ads, Tech Dirt


Going To Like This: Papers Allege It Violates Industry Click Standards ; Michael Arrington, Facebook Click Fraud 101, Tech Crunch
Nokia/Cisco Kim Zetter,  Nokia-Siemens Spy Tools Aid Police Torture in Bahrain, Wired; Somini Sengupta, Group Says It Has New Evidence of Cisco’s Misdeeds in China, New York Times
Microsoft/Toyota Wendy Davis, Microsoft Charged With Disregarding Users’ Privacy Rights, Daily Online Examiner; Court of Appeal Decision