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Back in 2012, Google was hit with one of the highest fines ever dished out by the FTC. The search giant had to pay $22.5 million for collecting personal user information by bypassing the default privacy setting on Apple’s iPhone Safari browser. Now, it may have to pay out once again, after a UK group launched a class action lawsuit against the company over the same accusations.
The group, which is led by former director of consumer body Which?, Richard Lloyd, and advised by law firm Mischon de Reya, says Google bypassed the default privacy settings on iPhones between June 2011 and February 2012 to place tracking cookies on the devices. Google claims it used the workaround only for its Google+ recommendation system, but the lawsuit says it was used to track “internet browsing history, which Google then used to sell a targeted advertising service.”
Going by the name Google You Owe Us, the group is reportedly seeking at least $1 billion compensation for approximately 5.4 million people who used an iPhone in the UK during this period.
“I believe that what Google did was simply against the law. Their actions have affected millions, and we’ll be asking the courts to remedy this major breach of trust,” said Lloyd. “Through this action, we will send a strong message to Google and other tech giants in Silicon Valley that we’re not afraid to fight back if our laws are broken.”
“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.”
Lloyd reportedly claims that Google said he must come to California to pursue legal action. "It is disappointing that they are trying to hide behind procedural and jurisdictional issues rather than being held to account for their actions.”
Google has dismissed the case and said it is ready to fight it in court. “This is not new. We have defended similar cases before. We don’t believe it has any merit and we will contest it,” said a company spokesperson.
The case will reportedly be held in the High Court sometime during Spring next year.