The U.K. High Court Blocks Collective Lawsuit Against Google over Alleged Infringement of Personal Data of Safari Users

The U.K. High Court Blocks Collective Lawsuit Against Google over Alleged Infringement of Personal Data of Safari Users

England: On Monday, October 8, the U.K High Court while ruling in favor of tech giant Google, obstructed attempts to bring a collective lawsuit, over alleged snooping data of millions of iPhone users in the United Kingdom.

The blocked lawsuit pertained to Google having collected illegally and unlawfully, personal data of over 4 million iPhone users in the State between 2011 and 2012. The alleged infringement was executed as part of the default privacy settings on Apple's smartphones, which enabled it to track the online activities of users browsing through Safari. 

The lawsuit was filed by Veteran consumer rights campaigner, Richard Lloyd, who sphere headed the collective 20,000-strong lawsuit, wherein he proclaimed that "Safari Workaround" of Google, is liable for violation of law as per the U.K. Data Protection Act.

As per the Act, extracting personal information of users without permission amounted to breach and thereby made the tech giant accountable to pay out several hundred dollars in damages to each aggrieved party.

A Collective suit in the U.K. is similar to a Class action suit in the U.S. It refers to cases wherein, one person represents a group of persons sharing a common grievance. Therefore, activist Lloyd, sought an estimated claim of £500 each on behalf of 5.4 million people. This amounted to Google being expected to a total pay out tuning to £2.7 billion ($3.63 billion). 

In November last year, the collective action against Google was initiated in the U.K. Court, wherein the claimant submitted misuse of personal data of millions of users by Google.

However, Google contested the merits of the collective lawsuit and further submitted that it would defend itself in the matter.

Pursuant to the Court ruling in the favour of Google, the claimant expressed his dismay over the decision and submitted that the ruling was unfair towards the people at large as it left millions of aggrieved persons without any practical source of refressal and compensation.

Earlier in 2012, a similar case was instituted in the U.S. wherein Google along with several advertising agencies were discovered to be circumventing privacy protections in Safari for iOS in order to track users through ads on various popular websites. 

At the time, Safari had blocked several types of tracking. However, made an exception for websites, wherein users interacted by filling out a form, for example.

The tech-giant added coding to some of its ads that made the users believe that they were merely submitting an invisible form to Google through Safari. But in reality, Safari was treated as a pathway for Google to install a cookie on the user's phone.

Subsequently, pursuant to being reported by the Wall Street Journal, Google put a halt on its practice. However, it continued to argue that the tracking was not carried out as infringement of privacy and thereby did not lead to any intentional harm to the consumer data.

Nonetheless, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission had compelled the tech-company to pay $22.5 million towards its prejudice tactic.