Economy

Google faces mass legal action in United Kingdom over data snooping

Google faces mass legal action in United Kingdom over data snooping”

A group led by Richard Lloyd, the executive director of consumer body Which?, claims the internet giant unlawfully collected personal information by bypassing the default settings on the iPhone and tracking online behavior of people using the Safari browser between June 2011 and February 2012.

The lawsuit is a type of collective action called "representative action", meaning the claim is brought on by one individual on behalf of those affected, who can opt out if they want (the group's FAQ section includes a link to a form for people who do not wish to be part of the claim). And if the class action is successful, all of those user likely need to be compensated.

A group going by the name Google You Owe Us is taking Google to court in the United Kingdom, complaining that the company harvested personal data from 5.4 million iPhone users.

Google was also forced to pay a separate $17m fine levied by attorneys general in 10 USA states over its unauthorised placement of cookies on computers using Apple Safari web browsers from 2011 to 2012.

Google then allegedly used the data in its DoubleClick advertising business, which enables advertisers to target content according to a user's browsing habits.

Mr Lloyd said Google had told him that he must "come to California" if he wanted to pursue legal action against the firm.

Google has dismissed the case and says that it intends to fight and win it in court.

"In all my years speaking up for consumers, I've rarely seen such as massive abuse of trust where so many people have no way to seek redress on their own", said Lloyd.

"They're not above the law".

He added: "What we're asking the court to do is allow me to represent the five and half million people that were affected, all on the same basis that their data rights were breached, and that Google should be held to account".

"This is not new - we have defended similar cases before". Google is determined to contest the case as a spokesperson for the company said that "this is not new" and that the case doesn't have merit.

"Through this action, we will send a strong message to Google and other tech giants in Silicon Valley that we're not afraid to fight back". In a press release, Google You Owe Us says that the use of the Safari workaround was illegal and "a violation of trust". However, fact is the company has paid millions of dollars in settlements over the Safari Workaround in the past - $22.5 million to settle charges by the US FTC in 2012, and $17 million to 37 US states and the District of Columbia.



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