Google sued for “secretly tracking millions of UK iPhone users”

Google is being sued by campaign group Google You Owe Us for as much as £3.4 billion for allegedly using the data of millions of UK iPhone users illegally in 2011 and 2012.

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Led by former Which? director Richard Lloyd, the group claims Google bypassed default browser Safari’s privacy settings to collect a broad range of data and deliver targeted advertising. It will bring “representative action” on behalf of the 4.4million UK iPhone users it claims were affected, and, if successful, each claimant could receive as much £750 in compensation.

According to the Guardian, the data said to have been collected by Google includes “race, physical and mental heath, political leanings, sexuality, social class, financial, shopping habits and location data.” Based on this information, users were then grouped by categories such as “football lovers” or “current affairs enthusiasts”.

As reported by the website, Hugh Tomlinson QC, representing Lloyd, said Google has already paid $39.5 million to settle claims in the US relating to the practice. However, Google says the representative action brought by Google You Owe Us is inappropriate and that there is no indication that the “Safari Workaround”, as it’s become known, resulted in any data being shared with third parties. Furthermore, the company also claimed it is impossible to identify who might have affected by its actions.

Tom Price, communications director for Google UK said: “The privacy and security of our users is extremely important to us. This case relates to events that took place over six years ago and that we addressed at the time. We believe it has no merit and should be dismissed. We’ve filed evidence in support of that view and look forward to making our case in Court.”

Anthony White QC, representing Google, added: “The court should not permit a single person to co-opt the data protection rights of millions of individuals for the purpose of advancing a personal ‘campaign’ agenda and should not allow them to place the onus on individuals who do not wish to be associated with that campaign to take positive steps to actively disassociate themselves from it.”

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