The People vs. Google

  • Category: News  |
  • 7 Dec, 2017  |
  • Views: 2901  |
Google, the American multinational tech company specialising in internet-related products and services, is being taken to court. With this company’s services and products including ad tech, search engines, cloud computing, and both hardware and software, it stands accused of collecting the personal data of millions of users. This is the first legal action of this type to take place in the United Kingdom and it shows that there is crime in just about every sector.

The Unlawful Harvesting of Information

This lawsuit will be focussing on allegations that the company illegally gathered info from 5.4 million users from the United Kingdom by going around the privacy setting on their iPhones. Google You Owe Us, the name of the group taking action, is under the leadership of Richard Lloyd, who is guessing that users could get as much as a few hundred pounds each if the lawsuit is successful. It’s not quite the same sum as a massive online gambling casino win, but it may go some way to making up for the experience, plus it will prove a very important point.

Google Used Cookies to Gather Data

The case will centre on how Google made use of cookies, small pieces of computer text that are used in order to gather info from devices so as to deliver targeted advertisements. The complaint states that for a number of months back in 2011 and 2012, the company placed cookies tracking adverts on the devices of Safari’s customers, even though this web browser is set by default to disable these cookies.

The Safari Workaround is an Abuse of Trust

This became known as the Safari workaround, and affected a number of different devices. The case in the United Kingdom will focus on iPhone users, however.
Mr Lloyd stated that in all his years of experience in speaking up for consumers’ rights, he had very rarely seen such an incredibly breach of trust, where so many users had no way in which to seek redress on their own. He added that he hoped to send a powerful message to Google with this action, and that other tech giants in Silicon Valley would sit up and take notice too, understanding that people were no longer afraid of fighting back.

Google Wants to Bring the Fight to the USA

Mr Lloyd also revealed that Google had informed him that he would have to travel to California if he wanted to pursue legal action against them, and added that their attitude was disappointing. He said that they were trying to take refuge behind issues related to procedures and jurisdiction rather than being accountable for their actions.
Google stated that these kinds of allegations were not new, and that they had defended themselves from similar ones in the past. They added that they did not believe the case had any merit, and that they would most certainly be contesting it.

A Precedent for This Kind of Case in the USA

Those who have been affected by these actions will not have to pay out for any legal fees, or even contact lawyers, as they will automatically form a part of the claim unless they do not wish to do so. Mishcon de Reya, a law firm specialising in litigation on this scale, is supporting the case, and although this kind of mass legal action has no precedent in the United Kingdom, there is in the USA. Google paid out $22.5m/£16.8m in 2012 on the same issue, and settled out of court with a small amount of consumers from the UK too.

The case will likely be heard by the High Court in spring 2018.

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