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STLR Link Roundup – February 18, 2013

Privacy Concern over Google Play Arise as Developer Claims User Information Shared without Consent

Australian software developer Dan Nolan claimed in a February 13 blog post that Google shares personal information without the proper consent of users who download applications. The information sent to app developers includes the full name, location, and e-mail address of users.

Sharing such information may be useful for developers to directly handle customer service issues, as developer Barry Schwartz points out. Google also claims that developers can only use account information for “limited purposes” for which they’re received permission from users.

However, others such as Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, and Joel Ridenberg, Director of the Center of Law and Information Policy at Fordham School of Law, have expressed their concern that users may not have been informed properly and given a chance for meaningful consent.

Nolan added that if he wanted to, he could use the information available to him through Google’s checkout portal to track down and harass users who left negative reviews or refunded the app purchase.

Google, on the other hand, denied that Google Play’s handling of personal information violated its 2011 agreement with the FTC to ask users before sharing their data with outsiders. In 2012, Google had to pay $22.5 million, the largest penalty the FTC levied on a company, to settle charges for bypassing the privacy settings of millions of Apple users.

In other news, EU privacy regulators decided to take action on Google, alleging various privacy violations.


Egypt’s Telecom Ministry Appeals 30-day YouTube Ban

Egypt’s telecom ministry filed an appeal to halt a February 9 court mandate to ban YouTube within Egypt’s borders, claiming that the mandate was not enforceable.

According to a statement issued after talks between ministry officials and the telecoms regulator,

“[b]locking YouTube would affect the search engine of Google, of which Egypt is the second biggest user in the Middle East,” which would cause losses to the economy of up to tens of millions of dollars and affect thousands of jobs.

The 30-day ban was issued earlier this month after public outrage and more than 50 casualties in the Middle East over the 14-minute video “Innocence of Muslims” posted on YouTube last July. Judge Hassouna Tawfiq of the Cairo administrative court described the video as “offensive to Islam” and to the Prophet Muhammad, violating the new constitution that includes a ban on causing insult to “religious messengers and prophets.”


Electronic Arts and Zynga Settle Copyright Violation and Employee Recruitment Lawsuits

Electronic Arts and Zynga settled competing lawsuits against each other on copyright violations and employee recruitment.

Electronic Arts, the second biggest U.S. video game publisher and developer of the famous Sims series, filed suit last August against Zynga, claiming that Zynga cloned “The Sims Social,” an Electronic Arts game on Facebook, in creating its game “The Ville” with the help of former Electronic Arts executives who knew how “The Sims Social” was developed.

Zynga, the biggest developer of games played on Facebook, countersued Electronic Arts for trying to improperly stop employees from switching companies. Zynga said this violated a 2011 agreement between the companies over employee solicitations.

The two companies agreed to permanently drop all claims and counterclaims raised in litigation since last August in San Francisco federal court.


AT&T Price-Fixing Suit Reinstated

AT&T’s price-fixing suit against AU Optronics Corp. and Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. was reinstated in the 9th Circuit after partial dismissal at a lower court for insufficient ties to California state antitrust law. The court ruled that “A defendant cannot reasonably complain that the application of California law is arbitrary or unfair when its alleged conspiracy took place, at least in part, in California.” Full opinion of the case, AT&T Mobility LLC v. AU Optronics Corp, 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 11-16188, is available here.



About the Author

Min Choi

Min Choi is a Staffer for the Columbia Science and Technology Law Review. She is a 2L at Columbia Law School.
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