Published: Fri, December 01, 2017
Science | By Eileen Rhodes

Class Action Suit Filed Against Google over 'Illegal' Safari Browser Tracking

Class Action Suit Filed Against Google over 'Illegal' Safari Browser Tracking

The legal action is part of a campaign called Google You Owe Us and is being spearheaded by a man named Richard Lloyd.

Google, nor Google You Owe Us, responded to The Daily Caller News Foundation's request for further details by time of publication. The group alleges that roughly 5.4 million individuals were affected between 2011 and 2012, and could now be eligible for compensation.

Safari is created to block tracking but default, but Google apparently bypassed this feature (the so called "Safari Workaround") to place cookies that gathered information on users and their habits so the search giant could deliver more targeted adverts.

Peter Vicary-Smith, chief executive of Which?, said: "People have to put their trust in big companies like Google because they increasingly play a large role in our everyday lives". Ultimately, the court ordered Google to pay off a $22.5 million penalty, almost the largest fine ever given by the Federal Trade Commission.

Lee Munson, security researcher at Comparitech.com said that while the incoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will do little to change the illegality of collecting personal information without people's consent, it will up the ante in terms of the financial penalties that could be handed to any company that engages in any such activity.

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The claim is that Google manipulated a feature in Apple's Safari web browser in order to place the DoubleClick ID Cookie on Apple devices. It was known as the Safari workaround, and while at the time Google said the practice was limited to its Google Plus initiative, the United Kingdom group made the case that the tracking was much broader and in breach of United Kingdom data protection laws.

"We are taking Google to court for its actions, because we believe that Google owes us trust, fairness and money", Google You Owe Us wrote on its webpage. The move is the first mass legal action of this scale undertaken in the country.

Google is being taken to court over allegations it collected personal data of millions of unknowing iPhone users. A company representative notes that the complaint is quite old and similar to previously defended lawsuits.

Lloyd toldThe Guardian: "I believe that what Google did was simply against the law".

The cost of the case - filed in London's High Court and due for hearing in early 2018 - including insurance in case Lloyd loses is being covered by a litigation funding group, Therium.

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