Mon. Dec 6th, 2021


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Google’s big day in court

Google is facing doomsday tomorrow as it awaits rulings from both the European Court of Justice and the British Supreme Court.

If it loses any case, there could be seismic effects. Here’s what you need to know:

Case 1: Google Shopping vs Margrethe Vestager

What’s going on? Google attempts to overthrow 2017 verdict of EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager, which led to the company being fined € 2.42 billion for favoring its own shopping comparison service over competitors.
It’s a lot of money, no wonder Google wants to appeal. Indeed. This is the second largest antitrust fine ever imposed by Brussels on a single company, only by the later Google Android Case.
What is the search giant accused of? In essence, it comes down to accusations of the company abusing its market dominance as a search engine to boost its comparison site while pushing its competitors in its search results.
So, what does Google say? It claims the changes the company made to presenting its search results were aimed at providing its customers with a better service.
What happens if it loses the appeal? Get ready for many more investigations into how Google ranks search results for restaurants, flights, or hotels. Opponents of shopping can also claim billions in damages for lost revenue. Paying the fine is just the beginning of what the cost to the technology company could increase.
Fairly large input then. They are great for Google but also for Vestager, who wanted to use the shopping case to set a precedent that could then be used in other cases against Google and other platforms. If Google wins, it will be a rejection of the European Commission’s antitrust strategy. It would also damage Vestager’s reputation as an effective competitor – she’s already lost one major tax case against Apple.
Tomorrow is the final then? Not quite. Do not expect any party to go silent – an appeal is expected, regardless of the outcome.

Recommended reading: Margrethe Vestager’s Lunch with the FT interview

Margrethe Vestager

Margrethe Vestager is known for calling Silicon Valley to account © John Thys / Pool / Reuters

Case 2: A Group Action Gambling

What’s going on? The United Kingdom’s Supreme Court will rule in a landmark case in which Google is accused of illegally collecting the personal data of millions of UK iPhone users between 2011 and 2012.
I think I owned an iPhone in 2012. . . You will then want to keep reading, as this is generally considered a test case for future class actions. The case, which was brought on behalf of more than 5 million Apple iPhone users, depends on what damages can be recovered by consumers for data breaches and whether class actions can be used to claim it.
Are class actions not common? They are in the US, but in the UK they can only be installed an opt-in base, which means that all parties involved must give their consent. The Google case is a test of whether only one individual can institute such an action without people having to actively sign up. Also hotly debated: how do you prove that 5 million people were all harmed in the same way by this data breach and were harmed enough to justify compensation?
I bet this is what Google is arguing. In a word, yes.
What happens if the technology company loses? Richard Lloyd, the former director of the consumer rights group Which ?, is leading the claim and has estimated that iPhone owners could be owed £ 3 billion as redress if a future trial passes. In the long run, however, the consequences could be far more far-reaching, as a victory for Lloyd would open up the possibility of similar data protection claims against technology giants such as Facebook, TikTok and YouTube.
And if Google wins? It may still face a group action on the data breach, but it will move at a much slower pace and is likely to be smaller as Lloyd will have to gather stakeholders (see this British Airways case).

Richard Lloyd

Richard Lloyd, one thorn in Google’s side © Jack Taylor / Getty

The internet of (five) things

1. Will Rivian’s huge success IPO make it the next Tesla?
There is huge uproar around Amazon-backed electric vehicle maker Rivian, even though it has only just begun production. Tomorrow it will list the largest initial public offering for a US company since Facebook’s debut in May 2012. Its valuation may reach $ 67 billion, but can it live up to expectations?

2. US strengthens fight against ransomware attacks
Yaroslav Vasinskyi and Yevgeniy Polyanin are both accused of being part of a prolific Russia-linked ransom gang. Charging them, which has also involved authorities in Poland, Romania, Ukraine, France, Estonia, Latvia and Germany, is still the main effort by the US to combat the recent spate of ransom attacks.

Nextdoor training in trade debut
Everyone’s favorite app for touching on neighbors has become public – and investors seem eager to support it. Nextdoor’s first day of trading on Monday saw shares jump 17 percent.

4. Israel’s use of face recognition software to track Palestinians
The Israeli army has spent two years building a photo database of Palestinians – with various military units even encouraged to compete to take the most photos – so it can use face recognition software to monitor Palestinians in the West Bank. One former soldier described it as the army’s secret “Facebook for Palestine”.

5. Manipulated silk will keep us cool as the world warms
About 15 percent of global electricity goes to keep us cool. Now a group of scientists could engineer his to block 95 percent of sunlight, which makes a fabric that keeps the skin 8 degrees cooler than traditional silk and 12.5 degrees cooler than cotton.

Technical tools

The Eufy Robovac G30 Edge

The Eufy Robovac G30 Edge (£ 340)

Hate vacuuming? You are not alone, otherwise robotic vacuum cleaners would have become extinct long ago. Some people will pay big money for it. At the top of the market you can pay £ 800 + for an iRobot Roomba I7 +, which ranks Wired as the best one on the market as you rarely have to look at it. However, if you are not quite ready to part with so much cash and are willing to sacrifice some of the bells and whistles of the most expensive robot vacuum cleaners (anyone for dog poop detection?), The Eufy Robovac G30 Edge (£ 340) is a small cleaner that is pleasantly efficient and graciously quiet. Wired it rounded off the best robotic vacuum cleaners for any budget and the G30 Edge wins the best value spot.

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