U.K. consumer group sues Google for reportedly violating iPhone users’ privacy
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U.K. consumer group sues Google for reportedly violating iPhone users’ privacy

Google is being sued for allegedly violating five million iPhone users’ data protection and privacy rights by collecting personal data without authorisation in 2011 and 2012.

The adeptly named group, Google You Owe Us, believes that Google owes each of the five million consumers hundreds of pounds.

The organisation alleges that Alphabet Inc, the conglomerate parent company of Google, unlawfully collected iPhone users’ personal information by bypassing  smartphones default privacy settings.

The consumer group believes that Google used the “Safari Workaround” to track internet browsing history and then sold this information onto “Doubleclick Services” a company which specialises in delivering targeted-advertising to end users. You’ll have seen this in action when you get served advertisements on sites for things you’ve recently searched for.

Head claimant of the representative action, Richard Lloyd, said he wanted to, “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.” The claim, made on behalf of the 5.4 million people allegedly affected by the unlawful snooping, will be on an “opt-out” basis. This means everyone affected will automatically be a part of the claim, but those who don’t want to remain a part of it can opt-out.

As a representative action, Richard Lloyd is backed by a panel of four: MSE founder Martin Lewis; a former High Court Judge; a former Government advisor; and a former non-executive director. The panel is set to ensure that people who may have been affected by the issue will be taken into consideration of the claim.

The organisation provides the following criteria to be a part of the claim:

  • If you owned an iPhone between 1 June 2011 and 15 February 2012
  • During this time, you were present in England and Wales
  • During this time, you owned an Apple ID
  • You used Safari browser on the internet while keeping the default security settings in the Safari browser
  • You did not opt-out of tracking and collation through Google’s “Ads preference Manager””
  • You were a resident of England and Wales on 31 May 2017

Google has dismissed the group’s concerns and allegations, noting that the claim “wasn’t new” and that they had defended “similar cases” before. In a statement, it said, “we don’t believe it has any merit and we will contest it.” With a net worth of $500 billion, Google faces potentially paying out £2.7 billion if the claim is successful.

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