back to article Screw you, Brits, says Google: We are ABOVE UK privacy law

Google is disputing a lawsuit brought by UK-based Apple users whose browser habits were slurped – without permission – by the ad giant. Mountain View claims that Britain's data protection laws do not apply to it as British courts have "no jurisdiction" over the company. Owners of Apple devices who used Cupertino's Safari …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nuts

    My consciousness seems to exist in my head so if my foot decides to kick Mr. Google in the nuts it has nothing to do with me, your Honour.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nuts

      Methinks Mr Google just kicked himself in the nuts. Can't see arrogant contemptuous crap like that going down terribly well with the court.

      1. sgtrock
        Stop

        Re: Nuts

        Actually PJ over at Groklaw has an interesting take on the story in her News Picks feed:

        " [PJ: No. It's not chutzpah. It's quite normal to make that argument in international cases. Can Google be sued in Iran under Iranian law? How about North Korea? Let's make the question a little closer to home. Let's say you are being sued by someone in Iran. You don't live in Iran. You live in the US. Now how do you feel? Do you wish to be under the laws of every disparate nation in the world? As this class on jurisdiction points out, in Saudi Arabia there is a death penalty for adultery. Do you want to be liable under that law if you are a US citizen living in the US? Can Saudi Arabia come and stone you? How would the internet work if it was the law that companies are liable under each and every country's laws, regardless of the obvious contradictions, and could enforce its rulings everywhere in the world? Would anyone set up an online business in such a situation? I wouldn't. How about China? Shall we accept limitations that it imposes on its citizens as limitations on US citizens also?

        I know it's popular to attack Google, but really it's quite normal to be sued where you are in business. Terms of use, which users accept, usually, typically tell you where you can sue. There are some exceptions, such as in cases of libel, where one can argue that you want it tried where the harm was done to the plaintiff, but even then, it's quite typical to see jurisdictional assertions at least raised. It's not only not chutzpah to do that, it'd be malpractice not to. The first time a country asserted jurisdiction over the Internet, Australia, it was big news. That's how unusual it was to even try to assert jurisdiction over a US company under another country's laws. Do you want to accept Germany's laws about not speaking about Hitler favorably? Does Germany get to annul America's First Amendment in the US? Do you see the complexity that ensues if a company can be sued anywhere and everywhere? If a country can claim jurisdiction over another country's territory? It is *normal* to sue where a company is headquartered. Google may or may not succeed, but it's certainly not chutzpah to argue that it should be sued where it is located.]"

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Nuts

          Appart from it is not about a US company being sued in the UK. It is a US company with a UK office and a UK operation being sued in the UK. If I opened a .de website I would expect anything posted on it to respect German law. If I went on holiday I would expect to be subject to the country's law. What Google seem to be doing is the same as US citizens sometimes do, and think the constitution follows them.

          Please do explain your argument to BP as the US government seem to have no problem with suing them in the US. It may be normal to try this but it dose not make it correct. The biggest problem is that they are trying to use US law in the UK by "refusing" a summons.

          1. dan1980

            Re: Nuts

            What would really scare Google is if IRELAND were to threaten action. Ireland is a key component in Google's (and many others') tax-minimisation strategy so Ireland (and perhaps Holland as well) have the most power here I would think.

            But then, the whole 'problem' of this tax avoidance strategy is party due to Ireland's quite lenient corporate tax laws which in effect reduce the potential tax income of every other country just so Ireland can keep a little bit more for itself. So, I guess that given that the Irish Government is happy to screw over other countries in return for a bit of extra tax revenue, it seems unlikely anything would change now . . .

            (Yes, I know it;s not that simple but Ireland could abolish the 'double Irish' strategy if it wanted and it's evident it does not want that because it would lose tax revenue.)

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Nuts

              Ireland does not have lax tax laws. Ireland, as a sovereign country set its own more severe, superior, but different tax laws to many other countries.

              Under Irish law, a company is where its management team is. This is an anti-avoidance measure which means you can't set up a company in Ireland, and run it from Ireland, and register and pay taxes in Andorra. It keeps Irish companies resident here for tax purposes.

              The "problem" for other countries is that they don't have this anti-avoidance measure. They allow under their laws for local companies to be registered elsewhere. This means that under Irish law a company managed from the US is a US company, while under US law a company registered in Ireland is an Irish Company.

              This incompatibility does not mean lax Irish Tax laws, but rather lax tax laws in countries who's tax residency laws are similar to those in the US.

              the an

              1. dan1980

                Re: Nuts

                @AC - 6:42

                > "Under Irish law, a company is where its management team is. This is an anti-avoidance measure which means you can't set up a company in Ireland, and run it from Ireland, and register and pay taxes in Andorra. It keeps Irish companies resident here for tax purposes."

                Not quite.

                What you say is true, but only for certain values of 'Irish companies'.

                What happened was that a few decades ago, British and Irish tax law allowed for locally incorporated companies to be tax resident wherever their 'effective management' was. In other words, an English or Irish company could be tax-resident in a foreign country. About 20 years ago, the UK abolished this to keep local profits at home, forcing companies incorporated in the UK to also be tax-resident in the UK. Ireland followed suit but made a crucial exemption for foreign-owned companies.

                That is the key piece of the puzzle as it allows a foreign company (like Google, Apple, etc...) to set up an Irish company that is tax-resident in some offshore tax haven like Bermuda.

                Now, to be able to do that, the foreign company (e.g. Google) must have an actual presence in Ireland. This is why the arrangement is called the 'Double Irish' - it requires TWO Irish companies.

                There are many complications in this system and it does indeed require the use of a particular piece of US tax law that allows this to be packaged up neatly but the point is that it is the legislation in Ireland that supercharges this, resulting in truly miniscule amounts of tax being paid.

                Skipping steps and simplifying a lot, the relevant US code allows two companies to essentially be considered as just one company - the parent company - under certain circumstances.

                This, in itself is not helpful. After all, if there were two Irish companies, both tax-resident in Ireland then who cares if one is a subsidiary of the other and charging royalties? In the end, an Irish company is earning profits and subject to relevant tax. The loophole only reaches its potential when coupled with the Irish loophole that allows a foreign-owned corporation to setup an Irish company that is tax resident elsewhere. THAT arrangement is why there is value at all in the US ability to disregard the Ireland-based Irish company in favour of considering only the Bermuda-based Irish 'parent' company.

                > "The "problem" for other countries is that they don't have this anti-avoidance measure. They allow under their laws for local companies to be registered elsewhere."

                That's also not correct.

                Google US cannot be registered in Ireland. It doesn't work that way. However, Google can create a subsidiary company called Google Ireland and incorporate that in Ireland. That kind of subsidiary law is the same in almost all countries because subsidiaries, by definition, are legally separate entities. Without that, multinational business pretty much couldn't function.

                Remember that subsidiaries don't have to have anything to do with the parent company's business. For example, I could be an ISP in the UK and then set up a subsidiary company in the US that owned a chain of florists. That US florist chain would be governed by US tax laws but any profits it returned to my parent company in the UK would be taxed in the UK. That's the normal state of things and that has nothing specifically to do with the Irish-based tax avoidance strategy.

                Both the US and Ireland have anti-avoidance measures that prevent locally-incorporated companies being tax-resident in foreign jurisdictions (almost always tax havens). The difference, as explained above is that Ireland grants an exemption to this when the locally-incorporated company is owned by a foreign corporation.

                To make the difference clear:

                * If an Irish company creates a subsidiary in the US, US tax laws will force it to be tax-resident in the US and subject to US tax at ~35%.

                * If a US company creates a subsidiary in Ireland, Irish tax law allows that subsidiary to be tax-resident in Bermuda and so subject the Bermuda's tax laws and subsequently taxed at 0%.

                Hope that makes the Irish loophole clear.

                If the problem was simply the US then there would be nothing special about Ireland and you would have all kinds of great names like the "back-to-back British", the "Indian iteration" or the "duplicate Danish"

                -----------------------

                Please note, I am not passing judgment such tax avoidance strategies. Opinions vary as to if this is a good or bad thing with some claiming that these strategies, which allow Google to pay less tax, also allow them to invest that money back into the economy, building data centres and headquarters and employing thousands of staff, construction workers, contractors, etc...

          2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
            Meh

            Re: Nuts

            "Appart from it is not about a US company being sued in the UK. It is a US company with a UK office and a UK operation being sued in the UK. If I opened a .de website I would expect anything posted on it to respect German law. If I went on holiday I would expect to be subject to the country's law. What Google seem to be doing is the same as US citizens sometimes do, and think the constitution follows them."

            But it's those "differences of legal opinion" that make lawyers so very rich.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Nuts

          I believe that you're wrong, sir, claiming, that:

          "Terms of use, which users accept, usually, typically tell you where you can sue.

          I believe, and I'm pretty sure I'm right in most cases, that it's not the T&C that tell you where you can sue, but the law(s) of a country where you operate OR in which you provide service tell you you where you can sue. And these laws and regulations, at a few EU states (and I'm pretty sure everywhere else), are absolutely clear: the local legal system applies. Regardless of what you put in the T&Cs, because they are subject to local laws and regulations, do not stand above them.

          1. sgtrock

            Re: Nuts

            Well, for one it wasn't MY argument, it was PJ's. For another, when the story first broke it wasn't clear what exactly the lawsuit was about. Without that context it was hard to tell if she was right or not.

        3. PJI
          Unhappy

          Re: Nuts

          Seems as if PJ is a classic, ignorant American. So Americans must go to Chinese of Indonesian courts to complain about products bought in USA but made in those countries? Even an American can understand the concept of being subject to the laws where it carries on business, surely. The software was produced in USA SO DOMESTIC LAW IS INAPPLICABLE IN THE COUNTRY OF USE? Give me strength. I suspect that even USA states take a dim view of businesses or people from other USA states trying that principle. I believe the USA is rather keen on shutting down foreign Internet sites that it feels are against its interests, whether morally or otherwise, despite them having far less physical presence in the USA than Google does in London.

          Will the British government at last ditch its addiction to American advisors and ideas and instead work with the rest of the EU to put these foreign entities in their place and stop their tax and any other privileges? Whether Google. Amazon, Kraft or the oil firms encouraged to make lots of US money from British N. Sea oil. Norway handled that last a lot better. Almost all the rest of N. Europe handle the rest better.

          1. Shining Wit

            Re: Nuts

            Is not it relevant that the google.co.uk servers from which the information was requested (i.e search results) are based in the US?

          2. oldcoder

            Your example just barely misses the reaon why

            "So Americans must go to Chinese of Indonesian courts to complain about products bought in USA but made in those countries?"

            Actually, yes they would have to. The company that is in the US that bought them from the Chinese is the only one they can sue.

            Had they bought them from the Chinese directly, then they would have to go there to sue.

        4. James Micallef Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Nuts

          Re Groklaw argument -

          Nobody in the UK is expecting to sue a US company under UK law. Google UK is a UK company and can be sued under UK law, and the fact that it is a subsidiary to Google US is of no relevance.

          Google (and Multinationals in general) seems to find it very convenient that Google UK is different from Google US, Google Bermuda etc, when this allows it to reduce it's tax liability, but once it's detecting an incoming lawsuit, suddenly there is only one Google in the US and all the other Google companies are not independent entities?

          Pull the other one

          1. Davey1000
            Unhappy

            Re: Nuts

            Starbucks

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Nuts

          Actually PJ over at Groklaw has an interesting take on the story in her News Picks feed:

          " [PJ: No. It's not chutzpah. It's quite normal to make that argument in international cases. Can Google be sued in Iran under Iranian law? How about North Korea? Let's make the question a little closer to home. Let's say you are being sued by someone in Iran. You don't live in Iran. You live in the US. Now how do you feel? Do you wish to be under the laws of every disparate nation in the world?

          Two points:

          1 - Google has a UK sales office, and has just announced plans to build something even bigger. Which means they are IN the UK.

          2 - PJ has an almost extreme pro-Google bias, and has had so for years. Sad but true.

        6. kurtfarrar

          Re: Nuts

          Hmmm, to use the sample of adultery in Saudi Arabia, if someone were committing adultery whilst in Saudi Arabia, then the laws of Saudi Arabia (in my opinion) should apply. Regardless of whether their home is in the US, and they are a US citizen.

          To claim your home is in another country should not make you exempt from the country where you do business's laws, particularly the deliberate invasion of privacy and a breach that has already been tried and convicted for in the US.

          By operating a .co.uk domain, Google are clearly operating in the UK. .co.uk domain names are only issued by Nominet, a UK organisation, not by ICANN, or any other such international, or US organisation. By setting up and operating a UK presence, they should abide by UK laws in addition to those of any other country that they are also operating.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nuts

      "Google declined to be served the lawsuit in the UK"

      Declined to be served? How exactly does that work?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nuts

        Basically they refused to accept the paperwork when someone tried to give it to them. Of course this, and their public statements, is likely to go down really well with the UK courts!

        1. Don Jefe

          Re: Nuts

          Not sure how it works over there, but here in the US the authority to accept court filings only exists with a few (sometimes one) company officers and no one else is allowed to take them unless it is a search & seizure type thing. If a general staffer takes the papers it doesn't count, so the company makes it really hard to find the person to serve.

          They hire private investigators and deploy armies of process servers to locate & surprise the individual. In some cases that individuals security team has prevented the process server from reaching their target. It's all a big stupid game.

          1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
            Meh

            Re: Nuts

            "They hire private investigators and deploy armies of process servers to locate & surprise the individual. In some cases that individuals security team has prevented the process server from reaching their target. It's all a big stupid game."

            So time to Google creepy Eric's home address?

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. LazyLazyman

        Re: Nuts

        I'm not sure how they managed that. I suspect that the US lawyers may be involved and not understand UK law.

        In the US a summons has to be handed to someone and proof that you received it etc. You have to sign for things and the like.

        In the UK it can be sent by first class post or just left at the companies registered address. You can't refuse it in UK law, for just this reason. You can't avoid legal action in the UK by just avoiding the paperwork.

        1. jonathanb Silver badge

          Re: Nuts

          And it is the court that sends the summons, not the claimant.

        2. tim99uk

          Re: Nuts

          How about a block on all google websites in the EU until its all sorted out?

          That would make them sit up and take note more than a fine...no play = no play in the EU

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Nuts

          Actually no can refuse to accept a summons. Does not invalidate it however, and provided that there is proof that you refused to accept it then the courts are free to draw their own conclusions.

          A major tactical and strategic mistake by Google's legal eagles.

      3. dan1980

        Re: Nuts

        @AC 12:54

        "Declined to be served? How exactly does that work?"

        Apparently quite well. At least as a delaying tactic.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nuts

      "Nuts" is right.

      Simple message to Google: don't want to abide by UK (or any other nation's) law? Cool. No problem. We'll ban you. You didn't think we'd only use that kiddie porn filtering for child protection, did you? Google search? No problem. Google ads and any other service? Ah. Well, that resolves as well as the Pirate Bay now.

      Oh, and you being investigated in 27+ EU countries? Guess who is no longer taking your side?

      Have a nice year, Google, you really have no idea what kind of shit you just started.

      1. NukEvil
        FAIL

        Re: Nuts

        You don't ban Google. Google bans you, then your internet traffic goes through the floor.

    4. James Micallef Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: Nuts

      "Google declined to be served the lawsuit in the UK"

      Mr. Google declined to be kicked in the nuts...

      ... hold on, that's not how it works, is it?? WTF how can they 'decline' to be served the lawsuit? If they were served, they either answer or else they are basically ignoring the summons, or else there's a different law for them than for anyone else??

      Any expert on UK summons who can enlighten me?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nuts

        ""Google declined to be served the lawsuit in the UK, Mr. Google declined to be kicked in the nuts." and is now sharing Mr Assange's sofa?

    5. Isn't it obvious?
      FAIL

      Re: Nuts

      All the people here hating on Google for not believing they should be sued in a foreign country should bear their opinion in mind when they get a summons to appear before the Islamic Revolutionary Court (Iran) for something they post here.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Nuts

        "All the people here hating on Google for not believing they should be sued in a foreign country should bear their opinion in mind when they get a summons to appear before the Islamic Revolutionary Court (Iran) for something they post here."

        1: I don't have an office in Iran

        2: Any UK company which has an office in the USA is subject to USA laws - particularly the PATRIOT act.

        3: The UK office is subject to UK law and others have aleready explained that the company does not have the legal ability to decline being served with a summons.

        1. oldcoder

          Re: Nuts

          As far as I can find, there IS no UK office.

          The closest one is in Ireland - which is not in the UK.

          Now, after the London office opens there might be (well, have been, as I would guess it won't open either).

          1. KroSha
            Devil

            Re: Nuts

            "As far as I can find, there IS no UK office.

            The closest one is in Ireland - which is not in the UK.

            Now, after the London office opens there might be (well, have been, as I would guess it won't open either)."

            It's just off St Giles High St. You can see the Google logo behind reception. Google Maps even lists it, at 51.516067,-0.127234

          2. Nick Porter
            FAIL

            Re: Nuts

            You can't have looked very hard then. Google has two large offices in London - one in Victoria, the other in Soho. They are merging the two into the new office in Kings Cross when it opens next year.

            The registered office of Google UK Ltd - a company incorporated under UK law and therefore fully subject to UK courts is in Belgravia.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Nuts

            The entire end of High Holborn (WC1) opposite St Giles Church is Google's offices.

          4. kurtfarrar

            Re: Nuts

            I thought Google had a whole campus in Reading?

          5. enceladust
            Thumb Up

            Re: Nuts

            Well researched! http://www.theregister.co.uk/Design/graphics/icons/comment/thumb_up_32.png

            Google UK Ltd

            Belgrave House

            76 Buckingham Palace Road

            London SW1W 9TQ

            Google UK Ltd

            1-13 St Giles High Street

            London WC2H 8AG

            Google UK Ltd

            Lloyd House

            20 Lloyd Street

            Manchester

  2. Busby

    Wow just wow, they are obviously in the wrong here but you got to admire there balls.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That's not balls, that is blatantly ignorant stupidity. It's not exactly the first time Google has tried to pretend that only US law matters, but this only has one translation in court: arrogance. And that is about the worst impression to make on a judge in a different legal judiciary from where you hail.

      1. ratfox Silver badge
        WTF?

        Weird

        How can they even think that this will fly? It seems crazy.

  3. midcapwarrior

    Do no evil

    If we do it it's not evil. Just business

  4. Ralph B

    Do No Evil

    Closer examination reveals that the full corporate motto of Google is actually "Do No Evil Or We Will Know All About It."

    Who's ever going to sue Google in future when they have decades of search history dirt on you? They know every site and image you viewed? They know where you live and where your loved ones are, and what you've all been up to? They're listening to every word you say, 24/7?

    Just "Do No Evil". Like We Told You From The Start.

    1. VinceH Silver badge

      Re: Do No Evil

      "Who's ever going to sue Google in future"

      You appear to have spelt "use" incorrectly. ;)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Do No Evil @VinceH

        I know that's a joke, but unfortunately the answer to that is everyone.

  5. Polhotpot

    I would have thought a just approach here would be "fine, but in that case, you can't use our courts to sue anybody", enabling anybody outside of US jurisdiction to do whatever they like to Google with no fear of rescourse.

  6. as2003

    So Google isn't subject to British laws, but BP (and Deepwater Horizon) is subject to American laws?

    1. Ted Treen
      Holmes

      You got it...

      Hackers, bankers etc. in fact virtually anyone who carries out actions which are legal here in the UK can still be handed over in chains to Uncle Sam so they can be incarcerated for the rest of their lives - if St. Barack deems it should be so.

      Who said that the US of A no longer has arrogance and a belief in their superiority (unjustified - very unjustified) as national characteristics>

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        Re: You got it...

        "Hackers, bankers etc. in fact virtually anyone who carries out actions which are legal here in the UK can still be handed over in chains to Uncle Sam so they can be incarcerated for the rest of their lives - if St. Barack deems it should be so."

        This is the courtesy of the non reciprocal level of proof needed between US and UK on their Extradition treaty.

        Just another gift of the Blair/Bush bromance.

        Say thanks to old 'Tone for that contribution to US/UK relations.

        Seems if you want your human rights and privacy properly trashed you need to elect a lawyer first.

    2. Barrie Shepherd

      That's correct -- everyone in the World is subject to American Laws, and the UK Authorities are happy to oblige with enforcement.

      1. Don Jefe

        I think Team America: World Police is awful, but don't forget the UK has a well documented history of enforcing its policies, political and commercial, all over the planet, with armies and navies to boot.

        If these toolbelts don't manage to destroy everything beforehand, I believe future historians will note that attempting to police the globe is an indicator of a struggling empire.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's worth pointing out that BP, based upon share ownership, is approximately 50/50 UK/US owned, I think it actually tips in favour of the US owners. Which means that all the people claiming against BP (predominantly) for the actions of a US subcontractor are actually killing their own pensions by driving them out of business.

      It's also worth noting that anyone who believes or claims that the gulf of Mexico was a crystal clear unpolluted water before Deepwater Horizon is seriously deluded.

      1. dajames Silver badge

        'Sright!!

        It's worth pointing out that BP, based upon share ownership, is approximately 50/50 UK/US owned...

        Yup, they're (or were) BP/AMOCO for a reason!

        1. keith_w

          Re: 'Sright!!

          How do you pronounce BP/AMOCO?

          BP - The AMOCO is silent.

    4. N2 Silver badge

      Isnt that

      How the not very special arrangement works?

  7. Spoonsinger

    Will this apply to other 'laws' that have been suggested to be implemented recently?

    IGMC, (it's the brown one with some stains just behind that ping pong ball).

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Devil

    No Google, screw you

    I stopped using you years ago. As I've said here before, I take measures to block you wherever possible. Your loss, not mine.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No Google, screw you

      Same here. I block all analytics domains and never use them for search or DNS. Why people willingly install their browser so it can phone home with all your browsing history I've no idea.

      Anonymous, obviously so Google don't know who I am (not that they care, the rest of the world is quite happy letting them slurp every bit of personal information up).

      1. google_inc
        Big Brother

        Re: No Google, screw you

        > Anonymous, obviously so Google don't know who I am

        We Know Who You Are.

        Do No Evil!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    back to Bing then

    damnit. I switched to Bing following the tax thing. i know, it makes zero difference, but if enough people switched to an alternative search...

    i got bored a couple of weeks ago of Bing's annoying results, so i switched back to Google, figuring that my token protest had gone on long enough. i guess now i'm going to have to switch away again. maybe i'll try yahoo this time around

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: back to Bing then

      All the cool kids use duckduckgo

      1. wowfood

        Re: back to Bing then

        Can't use duckduckgo at work, it's blocked by the companies firewall. Firewall probably came free from google >.>

        1. peter_dtm
          FAIL

          Re: back to Bing then

          sounds a poor management decision to me

          try asking your company management why they are GIVING company sensitive information for free to google.

          https\\:duckduckgo should be every company's default serch engine; google; yahoo ect should all be firewalled (but uncle duckduck will still use them for you - and if you really must have google then start your search term with !google to get ONLY google search responses - see the duckduckgo website on how to use the ! search options)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: back to Bing then

      Otherwise, use Startpage. https://startpage.com allows you to use Google without Google getting your identity.

      1. wowfood

        Re: back to Bing then

        I think the whole reason duckduckgo is blocked is because they can't track what you're searching. They want tabs on what the employees are doing.

    3. Zot
      Meh

      Re: back to Bing then

      I thought Bing uses Google's search servers anyway?

  10. stragen001

    So Conflicted..... google are clearly out of order on this.....but it pains me so much to be agreeing with Apple Fanbois

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      "So Conflicted..... google are clearly out of order on this.....but it pains me so much to be agreeing with Apple Fanbois"

      <sigh>

      True. Life is a minefield for anyone who considers all corporations to behave like sociopaths unless there are strong regulators (and right now I don't there is an actual privacy regulator anywhere in the world).

  11. Shardik

    Options?

    So the article got me thinking again that it's about time I detached from gmail, and for that matter, any other US based webmail service. Has anyone any recommendations for alternatives? Searching the web doesn't seem to give me many options as practically every free mail host I can find is US based. Even helpfully "uk" named sites like uk.inbox.com appear to be based in the wilds of Boca Raton (err, Shropshire, obviously).

    Come on El Reg, sounds like an idea for an article here...

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      You could try 1and1

      I admit I use Gmail (in a Firefox private wondow though!) but I've been experimenting with 1and1. I host a number of sites with them, and they're not too bad - particularly for the price. £10 a month for the Business package gets a lot of webspace and bandwidth, a pretty good webmail client with about 2GB per inbox. I'm not sure where the servers live as 1and1 are german, but if you have a .co.uk a/c they may still be in the uk. Might be worth signing up for a .de a/c and then it will be a bit harder for GCHQ/NSA to get at your stuff.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You could try 1and1

        I'm not sure where the servers live as 1and1 are german, but if you have a .co.uk a/c they may still be in the uk.

        Email sent from a 1and1.co.uk account still seems to go from/via a 1and1.de server.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: You could try 1and1

          I've got a website on eukhost.com which I've started using for email. And by started I mean looked at.

          Still not sure which webmail client is the best among the options they supply.

      2. Shardik

        Re: You could try 1and1

        Don't think the private Firefox window makes damn all difference when your mail is stored on a server in the US...

        1and1 looked good, until I read www.whoishostingthis.com/hosting-reviews/1and1/ and seems a few users with cancellation issues.

        Oh well. Still looking. I have a domain and a mailbox hosted through 123-reg, but it's reasonably costly when compared with a free gmail account, or even a 1and1 account.

        Len, GMX looks interesting... May give that a go. I'm surprised there's not an obvious UK alternative to gmail given the current level of interest in getting data off US soil.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: You could try 1and1

          Try runbox.com, so far I've found them to be competent, efficient, and most important of all, NOT EVIL (they're also very nice people). Servers are located in Norway. Sure, I know my country's (I'm a US citizen) leaders thinks that gives them license to slurp up every connection I make to my offshore mail server, but this isn't about asserting my Constitutional rights any more, but instead about reducing the degree to which my personal communications are exploited by both public AND private entities.

      3. richard 7

        Re: You could try 1and1

        The clue is the alternate server for mail

        mail.kundenserver.de

        been with 1and1 years, cant fault em.

    2. Len Silver badge

      Re: Options?

      I am researching getting a paid email service for the whole family with an EU-based host exactly to get rid this of this kind of nonsense. It's only going to get worse...

      As for free alternatives, you could look at GMX.net (http://www.gmx.net/produkte/mail?). They are one of those German providers who got a bit of PR on the back of their announcement to use STMP-SSL exclusively to prevent interception. (http://www.zdnet.com/deutsche-telekom-and-united-internet-launch-made-in-germany-email-in-response-to-prism-7000019266/)

      It's not the 100% safe solution from prying eyes they make it out to be but it's better than nothing.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        GMX

        "As for free alternatives, you could look at GMX.net"

        Only if you like to be on the receiving end of SPAM. I still have my old GMX account, but don't use it any more. The inbox is regularly full of spam (of which a large part is from GMX themselves and their partners), their spam 'filter' is useless (spam detection rates are low, and it lets the same emails pass that have been marked as spam by me many times), and the web interface atrocious.

        "They are one of those German providers who got a bit of PR on the back of their announcement to use STMP-SSL exclusively to prevent interception.[...] It's not the 100% safe solution from prying eyes they make it out to be but it's better than nothing."

        No, it's not. It's actually more likely worse than nothing because many people will believe that STMP-SSL is enough to keep their emails safe from tapping. Which simply isn't the case.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Options?

        You could try Runbox. Their paid service is both very good and also hosted by the Vikings.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Options?

      fastmail.fm is an Australian co. taken over by opera. seem OK, but I'm one of the strange people who pays for email service.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Options?

      Options?

      So the article got me thinking again that it's about time I detached from gmail, and for that matter, any other US based webmail service. Has anyone any recommendations for alternatives? Searching the web doesn't seem to give me many options as practically every free mail host I can find is US based. Even helpfully "uk" named sites like uk.inbox.com appear to be based in the wilds of Boca Raton (err, Shropshire, obviously).

      Well, start with avoiding Blueyonder/Virgin Media:

      dig virginmedia.com mx

      ;; QUESTION SECTION:

      ;virginmedia.com. IN MX

      ;; ANSWER SECTION:

      virginmedia.com. 3049 IN MX 5 alt2.aspmx.l.google.com.

      virginmedia.com. 3049 IN MX 10 aspmx2.googlemail.com.

      virginmedia.com. 3049 IN MX 10 aspmx3.googlemail.com.

      virginmedia.com. 3049 IN MX 1 aspmx.l.google.com.

      virginmedia.com. 3049 IN MX 5 alt1.aspmx.l.google.com.

      As far as I know they are actually breaking UK Data Protection law if they haven't told you this when you signed up. Your best bet is using GMX, they are German, or others in Germany. Despite having similar anti-terror bypasses in law to the US (not as strong - it's basically a weakened EU version) and a solid disregard for the law when it comes to stealing bank data from other nations, in general the Germans have actually started to get quite aggressive on the Data Protection front.

      The steps you follow are as follows: choose a provider, track down via MX record the name(s) of their mail hosts and run a geo-locate on the server. Be careful if they spool/filter email via MessageLabs, they may have hosts in the UK but I have noticed that almost always they have backup MX records with hosts based in the US. I've come across this now 3 or 4 times so I'm past assuming that that happens by accident (it's not immediately visible, you have to do some digging first).

      Good luck with your search.

  12. silent_count
    Happy

    Way cool

    The next time the Yanks try to extradite any Pommie hacker, all his lawyer has to say is, "as the defendant's software reaides in Britain, no US laws apply." Case closed!

    1. LazyLazyman

      Re: Way cool

      You joke (I think) but if this dose go the way of Google and that argument holds up in court, that could be a valid bit of case law when defining jurisdiction (although I suspect Google are going to fail here)

      1. jrb

        Re: Way cool

        Google's argument only holds up if they hold NO personal data in the EU AND they specifically state upon account creation that all personal data will be held in the US.

        I suspect that's not the case, which simply means google have to abide by EU privacy laws if they wish to continue to operate in the EU - where the money / tax is made and paid is as irrelevant as where the web site is made. Claiming it's of any importance is clearly an ill-thought out stalling tactic.

        If this were the US the government would look at seizing google's US domains. I'm fairly sure Google wouldn't want to lose all of their EU specific domains. ;)

        1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: Way cool

          Google have no chance there.

          didn't they state to the UK Parliament that all their order contracts were completed/signed off in Eire. As Eire is part of the EU then Google do keep customer data in the EU and are therefore liable.

          Unless they lied to Parliament?

        2. jonathanb Silver badge

          Re: Way cool

          This is about people using Safari on their iDevices. They probably had no agreement with Google at all.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bah

    "Google’s position on the law is the same as its position on tax: they will only play or pay on their home turf. "

    And that they have no home turf, of course.

  14. nevstah

    maybe we should follow suit..

    with regard to country specific TLD's, and, like many other countries, demand anyone withing to register a .co.uk be a uk resident or a uk registered company

    then Google UK (google.co.uk) would have some answerability - if they dont like UK rules then they can stop using it and we can go back to google.com!

    1. Yet Another Commentard

      Re: maybe we should follow suit..

      Google does have UK registered companies, it is just playing the same jurisdiction hopping game it plays with tax simply because it can.

      Eventually people will wise up, I hope, to the crass invasion of their privacy that Google wants, and they will simply stop using it. Only I doubt it. For example today I saw a new popup thingy on Facebook asking me to put in my e-mail and e-mail password to see who in my contacts list was on Facebook so I could connect with them. It saddened me to see that apparently five of my "friends" had done just that, handing over to Zuckerberg their entire inbox.

      I keep trying to stop using Google for searches, but the problem is it is simply the best engine there is. RIP Scroogle I miss you.

      1. peter_dtm
        Mushroom

        Re: maybe we should follow suit..

        so use https\\:duckduckgo.com - you still get to use google - but anonymously

        see this from the duck : http://donttrack.us/

        and you get the schadenfreude of knowing you are using google for free !

  15. Eradicate all BB entrants

    Shouldn't the tagline read ....

    ....... 'Hack and DDOS away Brit boys' because as they state the cannot be prosecuted under UK law they should also not be protected by it.

    Handy note to political parties, ripping up the existing agreement with the US might get you some votes.

    1. Atonnis
      Trollface

      Re: Shouldn't the tagline read ....

      This...totally this.... Google have just pretty much declared that anyone in the UK is exempt from ripping into their servers like a hot knife through very yellow snow...

  16. Len Silver badge
    Stop

    Don't like EU laws? Don't do business in the EU then...

    Obviously Google's response is legal nonsense. The country where a company does business is the jurisdiction, not wherever their headquarters are based. If Google doesn't want to abide by EU data protection or privacy laws they shouldn't offer their products in the European Union.

    Having a server in California doesn't mean they are not doing business in the EU. If they want to prevent being subject to EU laws they should actively ban all 500+ million people in the EU to access their services, not sell any ads to EU businesses and not have any offices on EU soil.

    Obviously, many EU technology businesses would love Google to leave (either voluntarily or by law) as it would create a very interesting market of alternatives. European businesses are already reporting an uptick in businesses as a result of the PRISM scandal (http://www.cloudpro.co.uk/cloud-essentials/cloud-security/5911/cloud-society-could-europe-gain-post-prism-cloud-landscape). Seeing Google leave would have a much larger effect.

  17. Alexander Hanff 1

    More info here:

    There is more info here including both the legal papers served on Google Inc. and further info on Google's response:

    http://www.googlelawsuit.co.uk/google-lawsuit-legal-papers

    http://www.googlelawsuit.co.uk/google-responds-to-lawsuit

  18. Spider

    We're missing a trick

    Surely if they are effectively immune from prosecution in Blighty, then they have also given up the right to legal protection here as well?

    Pirates ahoy! run out the torrents and prepare to be pwned!

    [pedant] and yeah I know it doesn't necessarily work that way but I can wish...[/pedant]

  19. IDoNotThinkSo

    Startpage?

    It may still be Google but at least they don't know who you are (in theory).

  20. Frankee Llonnygog

    I think Google just managed to exclude their products and services ...

    ... from consideration in any UK government procurements.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Meh

      Re: I think Google just managed to exclude their products and services ...

      I think you're dreaming if you believe that.

    2. JoshOvki
      Thumb Down

      Re: I think Google just managed to exclude their products and services ...

      You give the UK government way too much credit.

      1. Frankee Llonnygog

        Re: I think Google just managed to exclude their products and services ...

        Too true - the latest on the estimable D Moss Esq blog backs you up on that

    3. cortland

      Re: I think Google just managed to exclude their products and services ...

      Did you say EXTRUDE?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I think Google just managed to exclude their products and services ...

      no chance, Google are embedded in 10 downing street. try Googling it!

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This could be potentially more damaging to Google than they might thing. They'll annoy some customers, but y'know, who cares, advertising is where they get their money, they could close down Google search tomorrow and still make a healthy turnover from advertising alone.

    However, what they obviously haven't thought about is: Who would do business with a company who won't be held up to local laws? I certainly wouldn't.

  22. Chris G Silver badge

    F**K Google

    They Have a Google.co.uk site, they are building a headquarters in the UK and their software operates within the UK on UK equipment as part of legally operating businesses so they fall under UK law.

    If they want to ignore our courts fine! then they'll be surprised when a bunch of Bailiffs and cops turn up to impound their equipment and seal their offices.

    Part of British law states that ignorance is no excuse before the law so not accepting summons and ingoring court decisions will not protect them.

    Also not turning up doesn't cut much ice with British courts.

    This is a good time for Europe as a whole to flex it's legal muscle against these jumped up colonials.

    1. An ominous cow heard

      Re: F**K Google

      "when a bunch of Bailiffs and cops turn up to impound their equipment and seal their offices."

      I look forward to seeing coverage of that on Google News and Youtube.

      (One of the UK daytime TV bailiffy type series once showed some chaps turning up at Fujitsu with a warrant to seize kit to the value of a non-trivial debt the courts had found proven. Unfortunately I didn't see how it ended.)

      Meanwhile, anyone know any good online adbrokers?

      No, you're right, it's a contradiction in terms.

      1. Toothpick

        Re: F**K Google

        (One of the UK daytime TV bailiffy type series once showed some chaps turning up at Fujitsu with a warrant to seize kit to the value of a non-trivial debt the courts had found proven. Unfortunately I didn't see how it ended.)

        The sheriffs were pissed about by the company for ages. Eventually Fujitsu found the dept responsible and paid up in full. They blamed the debt on an "administrative error" if I remember correctly.

  23. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Devil

    You see, this is what you get for trying to serve a privacy summons.....

    To Google's UK tax attorney!

    "No m'lord, we've never heard of this jurisdiction you refer to as the "United Kingdom", though I have heard something about a magical kingdom of princes, princesses and armies of football fans that borders our home and legal domicile for tax purposes--Ireland!"

  24. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    I seem to remember...

    Multiple declarations from some Google understaffer, a certain E. Schmit, or Schmidt, saying that Google always complies with local law.

    Of course, this was concerning China and Google's presence in that fledgling digital nation, and it was also about surveillance laws and handing over information concerning traitors who disagreed with the Glorious People's government position.

    Most likely that this E. Schmidt or whatever was just an intern and not actually representative of Google management, then.

    Sorry, what was that you said ? He is executive chairman of the company and act as an adviser to co-founders Page and Brin ?

    Oh, well in that case it's because we're talking about a country where Google's presence is massively monopolistic, permeating into more and more layers of society, and it doesn't have to pretend to care anymore.

    Yeah, that must be it.

  25. Brian Hitchen

    Google in the UK

    Google say they aren't located in the UK. So why do they have they registered with the UK Data Protection Register? If they really don't exist in the UK they wouldn't need to be registered here.

  26. Stuart Gepp
    WTF?

    The complaint is that a cookie was placed on the devices where the browser was running by circumventing some security setting. The cookie was not on a server in the US. It was on the handset in the UK FFS!

  27. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Happy

    You should not disrespect a British judge anymore than a US judge,

    Their judgements are part of the body of jurisprudence.

    IOW "I am the law" is not just a pleasant platitude.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They also...

    ...drive on the right hand side of the road, and pass through villages at about 100 mph, for the British traffic police has no jurisdiction over them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They also...

      "They also...

      ...drive on the right hand side of the road, and pass through villages at about 100 mph, for the British traffic police has no jurisdiction over them."

      As a policeman I was told this twice by Americans, in terms of , " back state side....", when they had broken the law: domestic disturbance of neighbours in UK and seriously under age children being allowed to drive motorbikes at speed on busy public roads in Hong Kong. In both cases they seemed rather taken aback that the uniformed local lackies and later the magistrates were not impressed. But those were the days when Britain still had some pretentions to being an independent, sovereign state that even declined to take part in American foreign wars.

  29. Atonnis

    If I was in charge...

    ....and I know it'd be taken as a massive overreaction, but I'd do it anyway.....I'd cut the cord on Google to the UK until they sign on the dotted line.

  30. AceRimmer1980
    Black Helicopters

    Showing results for 'Scruples in Mountain View'

    0 results found

  31. ecofeco Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Uh Oh

    As one poster has already stated, I wonder how they will feel about not being able to do business in the EU?

    And how will they feel with the State Dept up their ass yet once again?

    I wonder if they understand that playing footloose with multiple governments is not some game and it can have VERY real consequences. Painful consequences. Perhaps even mortal.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Forum bar?

    I think we have a forum bar to decide who has precedence these days?

    I suspect that "if you appear as a service in the UK then UK law applies" will mean that Mr,. Google is, in fact, incorrect... he'll probably realise this when his ass is hauled in to the High Court...

    ... did someone say "do no evil"??

    G

    1. PJI
      Headmaster

      Re: Forum bar?

      His ass in court? Ee-aw. Well, in the Middle Ages I believe that could happen.

      If he gets his arse kicked by the court, that may be effective.

      I wish all over-americanised corrupters of basic English could also discover the painful difference and their own culture.

  33. LaeMing Silver badge
    Go

    Sauce for the goose

    I guess any EULAs, or even more official contracts with Google anyone outside the US signed are invalid under local laws (since local laws don't count for anything with Google) and can be arbitrarily terminated with out consequence or recourse to Google.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "According to a statement from the law firm acting for the complainants - Olswang LLC - Google declined to be served the lawsuit in the UK, instead telling claimants to serve on the multinational in California."

    Then the attorney needs to inform the court and have the process server also submit documentation that Google has refused to be served and that the lawsuit can now move forward. The court can let the case proceed without the defendant being officially served. Google can decide not to attend the trial and when they lose (and they will) then they will have a very tough time on the appeal side. Google essentially waived their rights away by refusing to be served. It is not up to Google where it gets served; the lawsuit can be filed anywhere where the court has jurisdiction over Google. So if they have an office in London, then they can be sued in London. The case can still be heard in the UK but have Google served in California. For less than $100 they can have Google served in California.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Irony

    So here we have Google, perhaps the most monumental exploiter of personal information on the planet, up against the principled British government. The same British government who yesterday sought to demonstrate the sincerity of their commitment to basic human rights, like the right to travel, by holding the domestic partner of the journalist at the center of the Snowden leak case incommunicado for NINE hours -- thereby making Heathrow the kind of gauntlet Sheremetyevo was only 30 years ago. It's hard to imagine a more striking irony than that.

  36. Nanners
    Big Brother

    What are u going to do?

    Take down 40% of the Internet? It's too late. Privacy doesn't exist any more. Not even in your iwn home, so get used to it.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    no more fines.

    Perhaps especially with Google, they should punish them with a 2 week block or similar - they have proved the tech with the censorship of the pirate bay.

    No google services in the UK for 2 weeks - it would not kill them, but it would cause them much more pain than a pocket change fine.

    People might use that time to look at other services, particularly those that use google for business.

    If they are bad again, block em for a month... akin to sitting on the naughty step, instead of forfeiting your pocket money.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You know what? Screw you too, Google!

    Glad I've ceased using any of your crap.

    No more Gmail. No more Google. And DEFINITELY no more Chrome. Don't need any of your spyware-laden junk installed on any of my computers anymore.

    I still recall about a year ago I had stopped using Chrome (kept it installed, however) in favour of Internet Explorer (lets ignore my choice of browser for now, eh). A week or two later I actually received a popup from Chrome while using Internet Explorer along the lines of "Chrome has been updated! Would you like to try it again?"... Seriously?

    It was then when I decided to do some digging around and subsequently realized just how much junk a Chrome installation injects into ones computer. Windows services? Check. Scheduled tasks? Check. Internet Explorer plugins? Check.

    WHY DOES GOOGLE CHROME NEED TO INSTALL INTERNET EXPLORER PLUGINS? OH WAIT, I KNOW! So it can continue to monitor how much I use IE versus its excuse of a web browser.

    And you know what else? Screw all the Google apologists too.

  39. Instinct46

    Lol Block Google

    I believe google is in the wrong, but blocking anything to do with google will end messy more for our government than google its self. Look at the news feed which stated 40% of the internet went down with google for 2 or so minutes, and then also think about the amount of very very annoyed brits which have lost their youtube, gmail and google search engine access (Lets be honest there are a lot more people who don't care about subject such as this) .

  40. cortland

    It's true, however, that if I decide to cross the border into Tijuana to get real Mexican food, I cannot expect the same kitchen sanitary practices I might in San Diego, where a stricter set of government rules is in place.

    Shall we see every State (or union) applying its laws worldwide when the "cloud" is in another country? Or several?

  41. Purlieu

    Google search test

    Try a google search on something a bit 'iffy' (with safe search off).

    Now do the same in Bing.

    Notice any difference ?

    Why is this ?

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How about next time David Cameron meets Eric Schmidt he just hands him the paperwork?

    1. Huw D

      "Here Eric, here's that bundle of cash you wanted in a plain brown envelope. As discussed, I'll make the problem go away..."

      Cameron won't do jack about it.

  43. Evilscot
    Black Helicopters

    Safe Harbor

    If google don't want to defend themselves over here then fine.

    Let us get a decision here proving they have broken their agreement to abide by EU Privacy laws, then take it up with the FTA. That will hurt them more.

    If the FTA do nothing then the Safe Harbour Agreement is Useless and EU could block trade with apple, Amazon etc.

  44. David L Webb

    Google safe harbour agreement

    Google has agreed to abide by the Safe Harbour agreement with the EU on data Protection which provides what is supposed to be equivalent protection to the EU data Protection directive and they have agreed to Cooperate and Comply with the EU and/or Swiss Data Protection Authorities.

    see

    http://safeharbor.export.gov/companyinfo.aspx?id=16626

    If they are saying that they will no longer comply with this then they risk losing a lot of business in the EU.

  45. Miami Mike
    Black Helicopters

    Shoe doesn't fit well on other foot either

    A little story about venue . . .

    Friend of mine in the UK has a small business, four employees, been in business 25+ years under the same name.

    Gets a legal nastygram from BigNewYorkLawer that he's infringing THEIR client's name, which client has 1,000 employees and does $1.5 Billion a year, so cease and desist at once or we'll sue you to death, burn your home, and also sink your whole goddamn island.

    Friend calls me, help help help!!!

    Dear Bride (mine) is a US lawyer, advises them sure, you can sue this guy, but you need to do it in the UK, under UK law, and since you schmucks aren't licensed in the UK, you'll need to hire UK counsel and they'll charge you out the wazoo AND you won't win.

    BigNewYorkLawyer then advises that their client is a buddy of Bill Clinton.

    Dear Bride's response was "Really? Is your blue dress stained also?"

    Piss moan rant rave weep wail - and do nothing.

    A year later, they're out of business - and my guy is still there ;-)

    Venue matters. Google, do no evil or not, is correct - unless they have a UK physical presence, they can't be sued in the UK (the issue here seems to be if they in fact DO have a UK presence). Personally, I wouldn't mind at all if they were sued, but it has to be done correctly. Part of having a lawyer, or a team of lawyers, is delaying tactics to try to make your opponent simply give up in disgust - and you then win.

  46. David 164 Bronze badge

    It not unheard of for multinational companies to argue about where a trial should be heard. An this has been use by claimants in other countries to get their cases heard in UK courts instead of their own courts.

    This is showboating by the claimant lawyers, I don't think they would bother with media briefings if they didn't think Google had a good chance of having the case dismissed by the courts on these grounds.

  47. SolidSquid

    Given that the use of a .com domain has previously been used as evidence of having some base in the US and being covered by US law, surely using a .co.uk domain should mean the same for the UK? If so then Google's out of luck on this

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