Google faces mass legal action in U.K. over data snooping

Nov. 30, 2017

Google is being taken to court, accused of collecting the personal data of millions of users, in the first mass legal action of its kind in the U.K.

It focuses on allegations that Google unlawfully harvested information from 5.4 million U.K. users by bypassing privacy settings on their iPhones.

The group taking action—Google You Owe Us—is led by ex-Which director Richard Lloyd.

He estimates the users could get as much as “several hundred pounds each”.

The case centers on how Google used cookies—small pieces of computer text that are used to collect information from devices in order to deliver targeted ads.

The complaint is that for several months in 2011 and 2012 Google placed ad-tracking cookies on the devices of Safari users which is set by default to block such cookies.

The Safari workaround, as it became known, affected a variety of devices but the U.K. case will focus on iPhone users.

Those affected do not have to pay any legal fees or contact any lawyers as they will automatically be part of the claim, unless they wish to opt out.

Although there is no precedent for such a mass legal action in the U.K., there is in the U.S.

Google agreed to pay a record $22.5m (£16.8m) in a case brought by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on the same issue in 2012.

The firm also settled out of court with a small number of British consumers.

The case will be heard in the High Court, probably in spring 2018.

BBC News has the full story

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