In today's EMEA regional roundup: Google faces class action suit over alleged iPhone data harvest; EU pronounces on patents; standardizing drones; TIM tests Adtran's Mosaic; Vodafone wins big in telematics.
A class action has begun in the UK that will seek to collect "several hundred pounds each" from Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) for millions of iPhone users who, say the plaintiffs, had personal data illegally harvested from their phones for several months between 2011 and 2012. As the BBC reports, Google is accused of illegally placing ad-tracking "cookies" on the devices of Safari browser users during this period, with the number of users affected being put at 5.4 million. The case, brought by a group calling itself "Google You Owe Us," is being supported by Mishcon de Reya, a high-profile legal firm. For its part, the search giant believes the case has no merit and says it will contest it.
The European Commission has issued a set of guidelines on the use of intellectual property rights, which it hopes will make it easier to tackle perceived breaches of such rights and facilitate cross-border litigation within the EU. The Commission is also hoping to create a fairer system for the use of Standard Essential Patents (SEPs), which feature widely in patents used in the telecom world and have been at the heart of many patent battles in recent years. The European Telecommunications Network Operators' Association (ETNO)welcomed the proposals, saying: "Guidance and self-regulation on IP [intellectual property] protection are the best tools to ensure fundamental rights and innovation in a fast-paced digital environment."
In other European Commission news, the law-making juggernaut has reached an initial agreement on the introduction of EU-wide regulations governing the use of drones. Until now, most drones have fallen under the jurisdiction of individual national authorities and therefore been subject to different design and safety requirements. Drones have been tipped by some in the telecom industry as playing a significant part in carrier infrastructure in the future. (See Drones Drive New Revenue Streams for Mobile Ecosystem.)
Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) has become the telematics partner of Admiral Insurance, the UK's largest car insurance provider, and will provide the underlying connectivity and devices for the Admiral Littlebox offer, which can give drivers discounted car insurance premiums based on analysis of driving behavior. The detailed driving data gleaned by the system can be viewed by the customer through an online dashboard (no, not that dashboard). Telematics has also been highlighted as a real business opportunity for telcos in the US, notes Light Reading's sister publication Telecoms.com. (See Telematics could be key for US telcos – just don’t get distracted.)
Google Christmas Cookies? It seems Google can't catch a break in the EU as they're seemingly a great target for all sorts of violations of regulations. As now "Google is accused of illegally placing ad-tracking "cookies"", one wonders if these are just nuisance suits to Google or will they take them seriously into the future.