Legal action has been launched against Google on behalf of 5.4 million iPhone users.
The ‘Google You Owe Us’ class action group, which is spearheaded by former executive director of consumer group Which?, Richard Lloyd, claims that between 1 June 2011 and 15 February 2012, Google tracked internet searches and took data illegally. This then allowed Google to sell targeted adverts, it claims.
The class action group says the internet search site did this by bypassing default privacy settings on the iPhone’s Safari browser.
If you were affected – and you’re likely to have been if you had an iPhone between 1 June 2011 and 15 June 2012, used Safari, and you didn’t opt out of tracking and collation via Google’s ‘Ads preference manager' – you will automatically be part of the claim and you do not need to take any further action or pay any legal fees.
You will, however, be asked to provide proof you’re eligible to receive money under the claim, if it’s successful. The court will determine how much compensation consumers may be entitled to.
If you’re affected and you don’t want to be part of the class action claim, you need to contact the campaign group via its website: YouOweUs.co.uk.
Mr Lloyd says: “Google’s actions have affected millions, and we’ll be asking the courts to remedy this major breach of trust.”
He adds: “I’ve taken on one of the biggest fights of my life in representing this legal action, which is the first case of its kind in the UK against a major tech company for misusing our valuable personal data.”
Interestingly, the campaign says a claim has already been brought in the English High Court on the same issue. In 2015, three individuals reportedly brought a claim against Google saying their Safari privacy rights had been breached by the search engine giant. That case, Vidal Hall v Google, settled on confidential terms, but the Court found that the claim raised serious issues which merited a full trial.
On the class action, a spokesperson for Google says: "This is not new - we have defended similar cases before. We don’t believe it has any merit and we will contest it.”