Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Judge orders Google, Facebook to remove fake sites

A US Judge has ordered Google, Yahoo, Twitter and Facebook, among others, to delist domain names linked to websites selling counterfeit goods.

It represents a significant step in the ongoing battle against the sale of fake items online.

The case was brought by luxury goods maker Chanel against 600 sites which it had identified as trading in counterfeits.

Many experts were surprised at the scope of the Nevada judge's ruling.

US firm GoDaddy, which manages around 45 million domain names, has been given control of the web addresses of the 600 firms. It has been told to ensure that none of the sites can be accessed.

Judge Dawson also ordered:

  • Google, Bing, Yahoo, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter to remove the domain name from any search results pages.
  • The defendants to stop using Chanel's name and images, and to stop selling any Chanel products.
  • GoDaddy to link the web addresses involved to a site outlining the case.

Chanel's counterfeit investigative team identified the websites by ordering goods from them which it then determined to be fakes.

Writing about the case in his blog, laywer Eric Goldman said: "Wow, I'm sympathetic to the "whack-a-mole" problem rights owner face, but this relief is just extraordinarily broad and is on shaky procedural grounds."

Others have questioned how much jurisdiction the court would have over domains that had been registered outside of the US.

"One of the problems is that the internet is a global phenomenon and you would need similar judgements in all jurisdictions," said Rachel Barber, assistant at law firm Wiggin.

She linked the case to the L'Oreal versus eBay judgement earlier this year.

In July the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that eBay and others should play a more active role in stopping their sellers from trading in counterfeit L'Oreal goods.

The court said that websites such as eBay might be liable for trademark infringements if they played an "active role" in promoting fake goods.

"It is acknowledged that third party intermediaries are best placed to tackle online infringement and that when intermediaries have knowledge of this based on good evidence that can't just sit on their hands," said Ms Barber.

Google said that it had no comment to make at this stage because it was yet to be served with the judgement. Facebook said was looking into the matter.

Source: BBC Tech News

Facebook settles privacy case with US regulators

Facebook has agreed to tighten privacy controls as part of a settlement with US regulators over abuse of user data.

The Federal Trade Commission said Facebook would tighten consent rules on privacy, and close access to deleted accounts in 30 days or less.

The case began in 2009, when Facebook changed settings to make public details users may have deemed private.

In a blog post, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said the company had made a "bunch of mistakes".

But he added that this has often overshadowed the good work that the social networking site had done.

Facebook had addressed many of the FTC's concerns already, he said.

The FTC said Facebook, which has 800 million users, had agreed to get consumers' approval before changing the way it shares their data.

'Express consent'

Facebook did not admit guilt and was not fined, but it was barred from "making any further deceptive privacy claims" and will undergo regular checks on privacy practices, the FTC said.

"The proposed settlement requires Facebook to take several steps to make sure it lives up to its promises," the FTC said in a statement.

That includes giving consumers "clear and prominent notice and obtaining consumers' express consent before their information is shared beyond the privacy settings they have established".

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg admitted that his company had made mistakes

Mr Zuckerberg said in his blog: "We're making a clear and formal long-term commitment to do the things we've always tried to do and planned to keep doing - giving you tools to control who can see your information and then making sure only those people you intend can see it."

The settlement follows a similar agreement in March between the FTC and Google over the web search firm's own social network, Buzz.

Last year, the FTC settled with Twitter, after the agency alleged that the service had failed to safeguard users' personal information.

Source: BBC News