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Stateside with Rosalea Barker: Hacked off

Hacked off

by Rosalea Barker
July 15, 2012

If you wonder why I haven’t been writing much lately, it’s because I can’t decide between a surfeit of things to write about, not because of a lack of them. Even trying to list some of the topics makes my brain weary, so I won’t. Instead I’ll opt for today’s bizarre interaction with a techie at the cellphone company that controls my access to Gmail pushed to my Blackberry phone.

At 8:17am last Thursday, I got a Blackberry email saying that I had to re-validate the password for my Gmail account. That’s because Gmail had invalidated it because they’d seen suspicious activity. That’s because, once upon a time, so long ago that I can’t even remember doing it, I signed up as a contributor to Associated Content. In 2010, that company was bought out by Yahoo! and the unencrypted file containing contributors’ details was posted on the Internet last week. You might have read about it.

The incensed story linked to above was published on Friday, July 13 at 5:54pm. Coincidence or not, Yahoo! finally sent me an email at 6:59pm that evening saying “This message is being sent to an email address in this compromised file.” Furthermore, “As a non-Yahoo! account holder, we apologize that we cannot provide you a direct means to secure your account.” I know this because I looked at my email on a computer, not being able to access it on my smartphone. Note that it took two days for Yahoo! to contact me.

In order to restore the email push to Blackberry, I had to go into the settings on my phone and enter my user name and password. Turns out, I have not got a clue what my user name is. And you can’t reset that information except on your phone, so the Internet help page sent me to a 1-800 number, and that led me to the conversation with the tech at the cellphone company.

I asked for my user name. He wouldn’t give it to me, and instead asked for my email password. Are you kidding me?! I’m having to go through all this because my password was compromised by hackers, and now you’re asking me to give it out over the phone? Well, I didn’t say that. Dumb and stupid as it may seem, I simply gave him the password, he reset it, and now I’m back to where things were before. That is, I will have to reset my password on Gmail and then call the tech line again and ask for my user name.

I seem to recall the user name was set up by a salesperson with whom I’d had a less than friendly encounter, so perhaps I should just try “DementedOldBat”.

::Google gives me my due::

Earlier in the week, I received a check from Google via Gilardi & Co. LLC. It is my share of a 2009 settlement that Google agreed to when some people who complained that AdWords was ripping them off took out a class action lawsuit against the company on behalf of all AdWords account holders. You can go to the website adwordscustomersettlement.com to read about the $20 million settlement.

Truth be told, I was completely unaware of the lawsuit or the settlement—or, if I was aware, had completely forgotten about it. Not surprising, since it took three years to reach a payout. And it is in the case documents that you find the reason for the delay. Back in 2009, one person—and one person alone—objected to the settlement. Matthew Weiss is, in the words of those then trying to have the court throw out his objection, “an attorney and seasoned objector to class action settlements” who stood to receive “25% of any legal fee that is given as a result of our objection and any enhancements.” (“Our”, in this context is Weiss and the other two lawyers his law company retained.) Furthermore, the objectors to Weiss’s objection claimed that Weiss wasn’t even an AdWords user.

It seems the case was dragged out because of a “scrivener’s error”. One of my favorite literary characters is Bartleby the Scrivener, whose job it was to copy out by hand legal documents. These days, of course, lawyers are their own scriveners, and it was Weiss’s own mistake that he named himself instead of his law company as the aggrieved party. Then he tried to rectify the “mistake” and that led to more appeals and counter-appeals, dragging out the settlement, which remained unchanged.

Poor Matthew. Perhaps he’d like 25 percent of my 59-cent payout as compensation.

--PEACE—

ENDS

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