London’s High Court has blocked attempts from a consumer representative group to enforce legal action on Google for allegedly harvesting iPhone user data.
Google You Owe Us says the tech giant took millions of iPhone users’ personal information illegally in 2011 and 2012, by bypassing default privacy settings on the iPhone’s Safari web server.
Google You Owe Us will ask permission to appeal against the decision, it confirmed to Computer Business Review. Google denies the claims.
Richard Lloyd, former director of Which? and leader of the group, said the decision “leaves millions of people without any practical way to seek redress and compensation” after data misuse.
“Google’s business model is based on using personal data to target adverts to consumer and they must ask permission before using this data,” Lloyd said. “The court accepted that people did not give permission in this case yet slammed the door shut on holding Google to account.
“Closing this route to redress puts consumers in the UK at risk and sends a signal to the world’s largest tech companies that they can continue to get away with treating our information irresponsibly.”
Justice Warby found that the Google court case could not proceed because each class member may not have been affected in precisely the same way, Google You Owe Us said.
The group is backed by law firm Mischon de Reya and has 20,000 members who could have been entitled to compensation.
“Safari Workaround” Allegedly Used For Targeted Advertising
The open group launched legal action against Google back in November 2017, with the aim of winning compensation 5.4 million British citizens that were said to have their personal data unlawfully collected by the tech giant from June 2011 to February 2012.
Google did this, the group said, by bypassing the default privacy settings on iPhones and thereby releasing data, including search history, onto its Chrome browser – a process it dubbed the “Safari Workaround”.
In May, the court heard that this information included racial or ethnic origin, physical and mental health, political affiliations or opinions, sexuality and sexual interests and social class, the Guardian reported.
Information was “aggregated” and users were put into groups such as “football lovers” or “current affairs enthusiasts”, the group’s lawyer said, and then used this data to sell a targeted advertising service.
Google made more than $95 billion from advertising last year.