Google "arrogant" for trying to avoid British legal system

Safari cookies tracking case is set to kick off in British courts, but Google is arguing it should be thrown out

Nicole Kobie
16 Dec 2013

Google has been called "arrogant and immoral" for arguing that a case concerning privacy shouldn't be heard by the British courts.

The web giant has been sued in the UK over allegations it ignored Safari users' requests to not have cookies placed on their machines. The case has already been dropped in the US.

Google was sued over the case in the US last year, and paid a fine of $22.5 million to the Federal Trade Commission. The company didn't admit to any wrongdoing, however, saying the tracking was accidental.

Google is expected to argue at the High Court today that the hearing should be dropped in the UK since a case "almost identical to this one was dismissed in its entirety two months ago in the US".

Google must be held to account here, even though it would prefer to ignore England

"We’re asking the court to re-examine whether this case meets the standards required in the UK for a case such as this to go to trial," a Google spokesperson said.

This move has angered one of the claimants, Judith Vidal-Hall, who said in a statement: "Google is very much here in the UK. It has a UK-specific site. It has staff here. It sells adverts here. It makes money here. It is ludicrous for it to claim that, despite all of this very commercial activity, it won't answer to our courts."

"If consumers are based in the UK and English laws are abused, the perpetrator must be held to account here, not in a jurisdiction that might suit them better," she said. "Google's approach that British consumers should travel all the way to California to seek redress for its wrongdoings is arrogant, immoral and a disgrace."

One of the lawyers representing the group, Olswang's Dan Tench, said that "British users have a right to privacy protected by English and European laws".

"Google may weave complex legal arguments about why the case should not be heard here, but it has a legal and moral duty to users on this side of the Atlantic not to abuse their wishes," he added. "Google must be held to account here, even though it would prefer to ignore England."

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