Google Sued For £3.2 Billion For Secretly Tracking Browsing Data For 4.4 Million iPhone Users
Google is in hot waters with the law in the UK. The search giant is being sued in the high court for as much as £3.2 billion for secretly tracking and collecting personal information of 4.4 million iPhone users in the UK. The lawsuit action again the company is being led by former Which? director Richard Lloyd. He claims that claims Google bypassed the privacy settings of Apple iPhones’ Safari browser between August 2011 and February 2012 to divide people into categories for advertisers.
The Guardian reports that Lloyd’s campaign group ‘Google You Owe Us’ told the court information collected by Google included race, physical and mental health, political leanings, sexuality, social class, financial, shopping habits and location data. The information was then aggregated and users were put into groups such as football lovers or current affairs enthusiasts for the targeting of advertising.
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Hugh Tomlinson QC, representing Lloyd and Google You Owe Us said that the data was gathered through “clandestine tracking and collation” of browsing on the iPhone, known as the “Safari Workaround.” This activity was first exposed by a PhD researcher in 2012. Ahead of the first hearing, Lloyd said:
I believe that what it did was quite simply against the law. Their actions have affected millions in England and Wales and we’ll be asking the judge to ensure they are held to account in our courts.
Google has already been fined in the US for similar practices. The company had to pay US$39.5 million to settle claims in the US, it was also fined US$ 22.5 million for the practice by the US Federal Trade Commission in 2012. Google You Owe Us, according to the filing, could be seeking as much as £3.2 billion. This would mean that every claimant could receive £750 per individual if successful.