Archive for Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lawrence resident files lawsuit against Google

Attorneys say conduct violated federal Wiretap Act

February 22, 2012


A Lawrence man is suing Google Inc. in federal court alleging that the Internet search giant illegally obtained his personal information and conspired to use it for targeted marketing.

Attorneys for Lawrence resident James Henry Rischar filed the suit Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan., claiming Google’s conduct violated the federal Wiretap Act. The petition is also brought as a class-action lawsuit as the attorneys are seeking to represent others who used Google’s social network known as Google+.

The complaints in Rischar’s petition appear to be related to allegations last week covered in The Wall Street Journal that Google had been bypassing privacy settings on the browser Safari, which is used on Apple products like the iPhone and iPad.

“Leading up to February 2012, Google tracked, collected and stored its users’ wire or electronic communications, including but not limited to portions of their Internet browsing history even when the users were using their Safari browsers with settings intended to block tracking user activity across the Internet,” Rischar’s attorneys alleged in the suit.

His attorneys also claim the information procured by Google while Rischar was using his Safari browser “with settings intended to block the tracking of his activity” contained personal information and/or wire or electronic communications.

“Defendant’s intentional intrusion on Plaintiff’s solitude or seclusion without his consent would be highly offensive to a reasonable person,” the attorneys claimed.

A Google spokeswoman said Tuesday that the company had not been served in the case so she could not comment. The company did provide a broader statement about the Safari issue.

“The (Wall Street) Journal mischaracterizes what happened and why. We used known Safari functionality to provide features that signed-in Google users had enabled. It’s important to stress that these advertising cookies do not collect personal information,” said Rachel Whetstone, a Google senior vice president for communications and public policy.

According to Whetstone’s statement, Safari enables many features for users that rely on third parties and third-party cookies, such as “Like” buttons, but that the Safari browser contained functionality that enabled other Google cookies to be set on the browser.

“We didn’t anticipate that this would happen, and we have now started removing these advertising cookies from Safari browsers,” she said. “It’s important to stress that, just as on other browsers, these advertising cookies do not collect personal information.”

An attorney for Rischar, Stephen Gorny, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.


hitme 6 years, 2 months ago

This is exactly why I NEVER use the Internet.

kernal 6 years, 1 month ago

So, how did you post your comment? Magic finger writing in the air?

Duane Nevins 6 years, 2 months ago

If you never use the Internet, how did you make this post?

KISS 6 years, 1 month ago

Me thinks he/she was being a bit facetious? My sarcasm radar may be off though..

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 2 months ago

Good one. It's a waste of time to sue Google, because they have unlimited funds to hire unlimited lawyers for unlimited delays and unlimited appeals.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 2 months ago

This reminds me of an article here on LJWorld on October 6, 2011 titled: 'Leawood man sues Facebook over privacy issues'

It seems as though we never heard any more about John Graham of Leawood, Kansas.

And, Brooke Rutledge of Lafayette County, Mississippi tried to sue Facebook also.

They're all so worried about their privacy that they put their names all over the internet?

Hooligan_016 6 years, 1 month ago

Yeah, when I saw the headline for this article I thought it was going to be the same guy ...

eotw33 6 years, 2 months ago

Don't follow the crowd and use an iPhone

meggers 6 years, 1 month ago

Since the iPhone was the first smart phone of it's kind, who is following who?

stinkybulldog 6 years, 1 month ago

iPhones are the ish! Don't hate cause you don't have one.

comput313 6 years, 1 month ago

The internet browser in question, Safari, is also used on the IPhone. So using an IPhone would expose you to exactly the same privacy issues.

Lee Eldridge 6 years, 1 month ago

People looking for their one minute of fame or an easy payday.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 1 month ago

It's a one minute of fame only and no easy payday because Google will very happily take this all the way to the Supreme Court, and that will take years.

Google does not mind that at all, but Stephen Gorny is probably going to get tired of this in about five years.

Under absolutely no circumstances will Google be willing to settle the case because if they do, there will be an avalanche of similar lawsuits filed.

The whole point of a case like this is for the lawyer to get his name in the news so that when people need legal services and look in the phone book, they will recognize his name, and hopefully think he's a good lawyer.

Stephen Gorny's name is in the news now, and many people won't even remember what it was for. They will only remember that it was an important case.

Ignignokt 6 years, 1 month ago

And this is why you should read a website's privacy policy before you use the associated products. I'm shocked the lawsuit hasn't been thrown out yet.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 1 month ago

That is very true. But by the time you're reading the privacy policy it might be too late, because quite often they already can determine some things about you.

littlexav 6 years, 1 month ago

The defendants haven't even been served yet; there's no way the suit could have been thrown out already.

Getaroom 6 years, 1 month ago

hitme: you done already been hit. If you are on the LJW blog, you been "ideed", Safari or no Safari, Google or no Google. All of us were 'ideed' long ago anyway. However, If one does not like the feeling of vulnerability of using an on-line computer then don't.
Unless you are hitme, or an Apple basher and want more information: click the link below and read the article. For now, this 'revelation' is about Safari, others will follow. It is OK, maybe even a good idea to sue Google, it is his money and he can make his point that way instead of screaming about an issue on a small town paper blog and doing nothing more than that.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 1 month ago

I doubt very much he's spending his money to do it. It is a virtual certainty that the case is being done on a contingency fee basis.

And I'm sure the lawyers that have taken on the case realize that they will have to invest a significant amount of time with a very small chance of a very large settlement. One third of the amount awarded commonly goes to the lawyers in a contingency fee case. It's a minimum of one fourth, and sometimes it's one half.

Think about that the next time you read about a huge settlement that was awarded by a jury. The contingency fee basis for payment of legal services is illegal in the UK, and as a direct result of that, they don't have a problem with frivolous cases clogging up the courts.

I tend to think that the lawyers involved are not doing it with much hope of a big payday from the case. Instead, they are doing it in order to get their name in the public eye in order to establish a profitable law practice.

But if they do win, in addition to a large payday, they will also possibly get every lawyer's dream come true, which is to argue a case before the Supreme Court of the United States.

You know for a fact that Google is going to fight this case as much as possible, has unlimited funds, is very happy to spend them on the case, and won't mind going all the way to the Supreme Court.

Because, Google can't afford to lose.

KISS 6 years, 1 month ago

It amazes me how much time some people in this world have to file crap like this..and there are lawyers out there that take such cases..

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 1 month ago

That is a result of the contingency fee arrangement being legal, which should be changed. But since most of our government is composed of lawyers, it won't be.

bad_dog 6 years, 1 month ago


In a contingent fee arrangement, the attorney only gets paid if they prevail. The plaintiff is still liable for the expenses incurred. Pretty much a disincentive to taking frivolous cases in the first place, much less to trial. No attorney is going to take such a case on a contingency basis, especially versus a well-heeled defendant unless there is a probability of recovering more than the time and costs expended. Hourly plus expenses perhaps, contingency not so much.

bad_dog 6 years, 1 month ago

By all means, enlighten me...

No recovery, no fee for services to the client. Attorney representing a client typically advances costs, so they're not likely to take frivolous cases due to the significant potential for losing money paid for filing fees, expert witnesses, depostions,etc., etc.

So tell me, why should a procedure that allows someone who otherwise might not be able to underwrite the costs and hourly fee arrangement be declared illegal?

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 1 month ago

As I posted above: "The contingency fee basis for payment of legal services is illegal in the UK, and as a direct result of that, they don't have a problem with frivolous cases clogging up the courts."

This isn't even worth discussing.

bad_dog 6 years, 1 month ago

Sorry, I was commenting solely with respect to your 9:08 post on illegality. I didn't read the one you mentioned above.

Nevertheless, the primary reason British courts aren't clogged up as you state is due to the so-called "British Rule" wherein the loser of the litigation pays the costs of both parties. That is what deters frivolous law suits, not the absence of contingency fee arrangements. Eliminating contingency fee arrangements would only inhibit the ability of someone unable to pay a large retainer and ongoing hourly fees and expenses. Again, no lawyer in his right mind is going to take a loser case and invest a lot of time and money into it just to have the matter dismissed or be a certain loser if it goes to trial. It can also be considered an ethical violation by the attorney filing the case.

American jurisprudence determined the absence of such fee agreements would have an undue chilling effect preventing certain worthy plaintiffs from otherwise pursuing their legal remedies. When a plaintiff files a frivolous lawsuit or Motion, regardless of the fee arrangement the offending party can still be subject to Court ordered monetary sanctions. I've seen it so ordered.

Richard Payton 6 years, 1 month ago

Google doesn't drive 55 the new Sammy Hagar remake?

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 1 month ago

oneeye_wilbur? I bet he's going to use the Google search engine, since it's the best one. What's your bet?

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 1 month ago

No, I have never been involved in a lawsuit except for,,, well,,, once over my student loans, and one time I was an interpreter for a woman when there was a bit of worry about whether her lawyer would clearly understand what she was telling him while meeting with him over a case that I thought was rather frivolous.

She was being sued for $75,000, and the case ended up with a $10,000 settlement. It was my opinion that if they had put up a vigorous defense, the plaintiff would have been awarded nothing, but it would have cost her insurance company so much money for legal defense that it was cheaper to just settle it for that. I'm sure that's quite common.

And, I spend an enormous amount of time reading all kinds of news from all over the world.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 1 month ago

Plus, I've been told that my memory is fabulous. If I read about something 30 or more years ago, I can still clearly recall it.

bad_dog 6 years, 1 month ago

She should have had a policy that required her consent to settle.

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