RealTime IT News

Sidekick Snafu: Data Restored But Lawsuits Filed

Microsoft today reports it recovered the majority of lost customer data for Sidekick owners amid a flurry of lawsuits filed yesterday over the recent server failure caused a service outage and data loss.

The software giant, which owns Danger, the company that provides online services for Sidekick on T-Mobile's network, will begin restoring personal data "as soon as possible," starting with contacts and moving on to other content.

"We are pleased to report that we have recovered most, if not all, customer data for those Sidekick customers whose data was affected by the recent outage. We will continue to work around the clock to restore data to all affected users, including calendar, notes, tasks, photographs and high scores, as quickly as possible," writes Roz Ho, vice president premium mobile experiences for Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), in a statement issued today.

The service glitch was caused by a "system failure that created data loss in the core database and the back-up," according to Ho, who said Microsoft rebuilt the system "component by component, recovering data along the way."

To prevent further service interruptions and data loss, the company installed a beefed up backup process for its databases.

Still, that may not placate Sidekick users, who are already filing lawsuits alleging negligence and false advertising over the issue.

A class action lawsuit filed in a Northern District California court by Maureen Thompson of Snellville, Ga. claims that T-Mobile, Danger and Microsoft falsely advertised that the Sidekick automatically and securely backs up data users store on the device.

The suit alleges that cloud computing was specifically mentioned as a key feature of the Sidekick in advertising.

"More specifically, the T-Mobile Sidekick system is an example of a 'cloud client.' This means that T-Mobile Sidekick users rely on Microsoft/Danger to provide the Sidekick services via the cloud (the Internet) and that Sidekicks are essentially useless should Microsoft/Danger fail to provide these services.

"T-Mobile and Microsoft/Danger have touted this mode of operation as a benefit to consumers because it means that user data can simply be sent by Microsoft/Danger servers to a new Sidekick should an existing Sidekick become lost or destroyed," the suit says.

The suit seeks an award of "injunctive and equitable relief, including restitution," for a "complete and catastrophic loss of data."

Though T-Mobile is issuing Sidekick users a free month of Sidekick data service worth about $20 and $100 in credits to spend on T-Mobile products or services, Thompson's lawyer says that falls short of what's appropriate to make up for the fiasco.

"T-Mobile's initial efforts to reimburse Sidekick users are a step in the right direction, but fail to sufficiently compensate Sidekick users for this disastrous loss of data," said Jay Edelson, the lead attorney for the suit, in a statement. "T-Mobile and Microsoft promised to safeguard the most important data their customers possess and then apparently failed to follow even the most basic data protection principles. What they did is unthinkable in this day and age."

In another complaint naming only T-Mobile as the defendant, Oren Rosenthal, of Texas, claims in a class action suit that the carrier failed to let consumers know that Sidekicks lacked a secure backup device for stored data.

Rosenthal's suit was filed in a Washington King County court alleging that T-Mobile used deceptive advertising by failing to tell consumers "in a clear and conspicuous manner the risk of loss of personal data."

Rosenthal seeks "class damages" and awards triple the amount of actual damages as allowed under the state consumer laws for breach of contract, negligence and violation of the Washington Consumer Protection Act.