Because of a quirk of the US legal system, the bulk of the $20m from Facebook's class action privacy settlement meant for people affected by its Sponsored Stories privacy gaffe* will likely go to "citizens' groups" - and concerns have been raised over the relationship between the beneficiaries and powerful corporations they …
Hold the front page
Only people to benefit from legal action are lawyers, shock horror.
@Chris Miller: Re: Hold the front page
"Only people to benefit from legal action are lawyers, shock horror."
You missed the point of the story. The important point here is that the Google and Facebook settlement money is going to lobbies and advocacy groups that are *already* getting paid by Google and Facebook for their advocacy on behalf of Google and Facebook... See where I'm going with this? Settlements like this merely enable Google and Facebook to funnel more money to their hirelings, thus making their hirelings even more dependent on them.
This kind of cy pres abuse is not new, but is has been getting worse in the past few years.
It's law Jim, but not as we know it.
Disfunctional government, disfunctional judicial system, disfunctional copyrigyht system, disfunctional patent system, disfunctional gun laws, disfunctional media...Yay! Go USA!
Re: It's law Jim, but not as we know it.
Dysfunctional Dysfunctional, government, Dysfunctional Dysfunctional, judicial system, Dysfunctional Dysfunctional, copyrigyht copyright system, Dysfunctional Dysfunctional, patent system, Dysfunctional Dysfunctional, gun laws, Dysfunctional Dysfunctional, media...
There! Fixed it for you!
A story about Facebook sponsored stories which turns has half the story talking about the failings of Google...oh, yes it's another Orlowski story.
However to use EPIC as a source, when they have made it their mission to complain and get investigations into Google one of their primary tasks in recent years is maybe not so impartial. Another company seems to be doing that a lot as well, enter Microsoft. How many times has EPIC complained about Microsoft...zero.
A surprising number of organisations seem to be pursuing complaints about Google which have a link or backing from Microsoft in recent years. Could EPIC be one of them?
Well maybe, the members of their advisory board include Cynthia Dwork who works for Microsoft Research, along with Dannah Boyd (Microsoft), Stefan Brands (Microsoft) and Ray Ozzie (Chief Software Architect, Microsoft). They also host events at Microsoft's policy center.
OK then, go and tell us what material facts are incorrect and what is opinion masquerading as fact, because as far as I can see, Andrew is providing in-depth analysis on a current news story by looking at a very similar case study from recent history.
This is what you call "good journalism", and while Orlowski may have resorted to a little too much editorialising of late, this is the sort of critical insight that made many of us start reading the Register way back when.
I now understand US class action lawsuits infinitely better than I did this morning, and I now also understand why it is prone to abuse.
(Incidentally, what I knew before this morning was mostly based on reporting of the Google Books settlement process here on the Register....)
"A story about Facebook sponsored stories which turns has half the story talking about the failings of Google"
No, this is a story about a LAWSUIT about Facebook Sponsored Stories and addresses that subject at length.
Re: EPIC FAIL
This time, Mr Orlowski explains the basic issue well. And he may have a valid point - the legal process could be diverting money to organisations that work for the companies who lost the class action suits. Or not. It is surely the job of the lawyers for the plaintiffs to ensure that the defendants' payouts don't go to shills who effectively work for the defendants. They should be doing something to justify their $8M cut of the winnings (bit steep that - good point again, Mr O.).
On the other hand, Mr Orlowski's well known mistrust of anything connected with Google leads him to all but claim that the EFF and ACLU are some kind of front for the googleplex ("...already beneficiaries of Google donations, and have taken policy positions on causes close to Google's interests that are entirely in line with Google's..."), just because Google finds itself occasionally opposed to exploitation of internet users by (other?) big businesses. That seems a bit of a stretch. Even for him.
Maybe the money isn't all being wasted on fronts for the defendants after all.
Looks like those angling for free cash were barking up the wrong tree.
Pining for the fiords?
Can I apply?
I promise to slag FB off at every opportunity if they give me $1M. I already do it for free, so might as well get paid for it as well...
American law fail
Sounds about right for the US
...but maybe the rather obvious and simple answer is to require any charities involved to be completely divorced from the matter in hand - if it's a privacy case (like this one) then the money should go to some housing charity, or a wildlife trust or something completely unconnected.
...but, of course, that's just TOO simple, isn't it?
Let me get this straight
Charitable institutions which are/were set up to lobby on behalf of the citizenship regarding privacy affairs are being funded by companies who are profitted by redefining privacy.
I can't see how that's anything other than a conflict of interest right there, and that's before you even get to the cy-près thing.
Its not that clear cut... Re: Let me get this straight
Here's the rub...
The EFF may argue on some issues on behalf of FB or Google.
It may on other issues argue against FB or Google. It depends on the issue.
Should the EFF not accept money from Google or their employees because they one day may be on an opposite side of the issue?
I don't know. Truthfully I find the entire Silicon Valley to be incestuous as well as a bit out of tune with the rest of the world...
So there may or may not be a conflict of interest.
How big a garden can you cover in astroturf for $1M?
In the U.S.
The paid liars are the ones who get the vast majority of money from any class action lawsuit. The victims are lucky to get a few dollars - literally, depending on the size of the class and the settlement amount. It's criminal that the lawyers get away with this. Most victims are naive and think they will actually be compensated for thier losses, which never happens in class action lawsuits in the U.S.
Re: In the U.S.
I personally think that the corporate veil and limited liability should be removed, to the extent that the people responsible for grievous errors can literally end up on the street in rags shouting at pigeons.
Re: In the U.S.
I understand that in the UK in the 1600's(?) corporations were banned because limited liability was considered immoral. You were not allowed to support / fund / benefit from something without being responsible for what that organisation does.
Re: In the U.S.
"You were not allowed to support / fund / benefit from something without being responsible for what that organisation does."
Yep, just like Lloyds of London. That is until the shit hit the fan and all the names faced the horrible thought that they would actually have to pay up. So they changed the rules and managed to back away from the losses that had been built up over many years by various dubious accounting practices.
"getting children to use computers even more than they do already"
Presumably by feeding them some sort of amphetamines to keep them awake for longer (if they're anything like mine...)
Charities - what a joke!
And the evil continues on.
They should be forced to give to consumer advocacy groups NOT of their choosing! The Register should post the names and business addresses of the judges in these cases, so they can be expunged or in some cases voted out of office! There is for sure no way I'm going to try to go through the trouble of claiming my 10 bucks! I read the email I got from FB on the suit, and concluded the heavy work load to put in a claim wasn't worth my time. I would not even do if for principal - I'm not their monkey boy!