A class action case sought by a collection of UK citizens calling themselves “Google You Owe Us” could lead to the tech giant compensating over five million to residents of Britain. The suit claims that Google illegally worked around iPhone’s Safari security settings in order to compile private data.
This breach is far from new. In 2012, Google, Facebook, and other networks were outed for sneaking around restrictions to leave cookies on iPhones. Ultimately, the court ordered Google to pay off a $22.5 million penalty, nearly the largest fine ever given by the Federal Trade Commission.
When this news came out, Google insisted that this procedure only applied to its Google-Plus. However, Google You Owe Us says that the tech company used the same process to monitor user browsing records, which it “then used to sell a targeted advertising service”. Much of Google’s income comes from this type of advertising, offering tailored ads to its customers.
Among the claimants is Richard Lloyd, who formerly worked as director of the UK’s consumer group Which?. In a statement to The Guardian, he said that he thinks what Google did is clearly illegal.
Lloyd continued to state that Google’s “breach of trust” has lead to a manipulation of millions of British citizens. He concluded, “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 if our laws are broken.”
Law firm Mischon de Reya will also pursue legal action against the tech company.
Although big technology business in the US have faced numerous class action suits over the years, this type of lawsuit is relatively rare in the UK. The lawsuit will come before the British High Court in the next year. Potentially, all British iPhone users from 2011-2012 could see reparations.
Google plans to fight the case. A company representative notes that the complaint is quite old and similar to previously defended lawsuits.