Google Slapped with Lawsuit in the UK Over Shady Tracking of Safari Users Between 2011-12


A lawsuit has been filed in the London High Court against Google for allegedly tracking Safari users by exploiting a loophole in the browser. Safari blocks all cookies by default. However, Google managed to circumvent Safari and make it seem like an invisible form was filled, allowing the browser to store the cookies on a user’s iPhone. This appears to be in violation of the U.K. Data Protection Act.

It is estimated that nearly 5.1 million UK citizens owned an iPhone between June 2011 and February 2012. These users could be eligible for a compensation from Google. This isn’t new for Google, however, as a similar concern was raised in the U.S. back in 2012. WSJ did a story on Google’s alleged “Safari Workaround” and Google eventually stopped using this method. The FTC subsequently fined Google $22.5 million for the violation.

This lawsuit filed in the UK (also known as collective action) is the first instance where a group of UK residents have filed a suit against a major tech company alleging breach of data. The suit was filed by seasoned consumer rights campaigner Richard Lloyd. He has also set up a group called Google You Owe Us for this purpose. Further, Lloyd claims that each user could receive up to a few hundred pounds if the case is won. This could mean Google would have to shell out nearly a couple of billion pounds as compensation.

Google remains skeptical about the merits of the case, however. The company said – “This is not new – we have defended similar cases before. We don’t believe it has any merit and we will contest it.”

Lloyd, on the other hand, said “In all my years speaking up for consumers, I’ve rarely seen such a massive abuse of trust where so many people have no way to seek redress on their own.

[Via Financial Times]