Google iPhone data pri­vacy case blocked by High Court

The Malta Business Weekly - - NEWS -

The High Court has blocked a bid to sue Google for al­legedly un­law­fully tak­ing data from 4.4 mil­lion UK iPhone users.

The le­gal case was mounted by a group called Google You Owe Us, led by for­mer Which di­rec­tor Richard Lloyd.

It sought com­pen­sa­tion for peo­ple whose hand­sets were tracked by Google for sev­eral months in 2011 and 2012.

Mr Lloyd said he was "dis­ap­pointed" by the rul­ing and his group would ap­peal, but Google said it was "pleased" and thought the case was "with­out merit".

The cam­paign was be­lieved to be the first mass le­gal ac­tion of its kind in the UK.

Mr Jus­tice Warby who over­saw the case ex­plained that it was blocked be­cause the claims that peo­ple suf­fered dam­age were not sup­ported by the facts ad­vanced by the cam­paign group.

An­other rea­son for block­ing it, he said, was the im­pos­si­bil­ity of re­li­ably cal­cu­lat­ing the num­ber of iPhone users af­fected by the al­leged pri­vacy breach.

Mr Lloyd said in a state­ment: "To­day's judge­ment is ex­tremely dis­ap­point­ing and ef­fec­tively leaves mil­lions of peo­ple with­out any prac­ti­cal way to seek re­dress and com­pen­sa­tion when their per­sonal data has been mis­used."

He added that he would seek per­mis­sion to ap­peal against the ver­dict on be­half of the 20,000 peo­ple who signed up to the cam­paign.

In re­sponse to the court rul­ing, Google said: ""The pri­vacy and se­cu­rity of our users is ex­tremely im­por­tant to us. This claim is with­out merit, and we're pleased the court has dis­missed it."

The case re­volved around how Google used what are known as cook­ies - small com­puter text files that log in­for­ma­tion as peo­ple browse the web and use on­line ser­vices.

The com­plaint made by Google You Owe Us al­leged that the cook­ies were used by Google to track peo­ple and get around set­tings on Ap­ple's Sa­fari browser that blocked such mon­i­tor­ing.

Ads were sold on the ba­sis of the per­sonal in­for­ma­tion gath­ered by Google's cook­ies.

The Sa­fari work­around was used by Google on lots of dif­fer­ent de­vices but the UK case cen­tred on iPhone users. The group hoped to win £1bn in com­pen­sa­tion for af­fected users.

The first stage of the le­gal case was get­ting the UK courts to recog­nise that the group had a le­git­i­mate com­plaint.

In an ear­lier court ap­pear­ance, Google ar­gued that the type of ac­tion be­ing brought by Mr Lloyd was un­suit­able and should not be given the go-ahead.

Google has paid $39.5m in the US to set­tle ear­lier claims against it over sim­i­lar data-gath­er­ing claims.

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