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Class Action Lawsuit Filed against Google in UK
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Summary: A class action lawsuit for UK iPhone users was filed against Google for unlawful data collection.

The UK is not happy with Google. A massive class action lawsuit has been filed against the company for data snooping. This lawsuit is the first of its kind in the country.

  
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The group taking charge, Google You Owe Us, led by former consumer watchdog Which? director Richard Lloyd, claims that Google unlawfully collected data from 5.4 million UK users by bypassing privacy settings on their iPhones. He believes users could get “several hundred pounds each” from Google.

The case focuses on the use of cookies – small pieces of computer text that are collected from devices in order for ads to be personalized to the correct audience. The complaint argues that for several months in 2011 and 2012, Google used ad-tracking cookies on the devices of Safari users, which is set by default to block such cookies. This became known as the “Safari Workaround.”

The workaround affected varying devices but the UK case is focusing on just iPhone users. Safari blocked several types of tracking automatically unless the user opted in by filling out a form while interacting with the site. Google allegedly added coding to some of its ads that tricked Safari into thinking the user was submitting a form to Google, thus allowing Google to install a cookie on the user’s phone.

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

He claims that Google told him he had to “come to California” if he wanted to pursue legal action against the company. He said, “It is disappointing that they are trying to hide behind procedural and jurisdictional issues rather than being held to account for their actions.”



In a statement to BBC, Google responded, “This is not new – we have defended similar cases before. We don’t believe it has any merit and we will contest it.”

All affected users will automatically be eligible for part of the claim unless they wish to opt out. They do not have to pay any of the legal fees or contact a lawyer. The law firm Mishcon de Reya is taking on the case. They specialize in large-scale litigation.

The US Federal Trade Commission brought a similar case against Google in 2012. Google agreed to pay a record $22.5 million. They also settled out of court with a few British consumers.

The High Court will hear the case sometime in the Spring.

Do you think Google has collected data unlawfully? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

To learn more about Google lawsuits, read these articles:



 

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