Google faces UK class action lawsuit over 2012 Safari privacy settings bypass scandal

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in iPhone
Google faces the prospect of paying out compensation to iPhone owners in the United Kingdom if an attempted class action lawsuit goes against the firm, with a group taking the search giant to court over its bypassing of privacy controls in Safari that took place from 2011 until 2012.




The group "Google You Owe Us" launched the representative action, the UK's equivalent of a class action lawsuit, against Google on Thursday, after formally notifying Google of the claim in July, BBC News reports. The claim by the group is being made "on behalf of all qualifying iPhone users" based in England and Wales who were affected by the "Safari Workaround."

The workaround refers to allegations dating back to 2012 that Google had intentionally bypassed Safari's default privacy settings, used to restrict websites from setting cookies unless the user interacted with those sites directly. Google altered its advertising code to submit an invisible form to allow cookies on behalf of the user, doing so without the user's content.

The Google You Owe Us group is led by Richard Lloyd, a former Executive Director of consumer watchdog publication Which? and was previously a Special Advisor to the Prime Minister. Lloyd is also a class member of the action, and is representing all potential claimants, with support from law firm Mishcon de Reya.

According to the action, the claimant class consists of individuals who were present in England and Wales at any time between June 1, 2011 and February 15, 2012, were resident in the two countries on May 31 of this year, have an Apple ID, owned an iPhone, used Safari as a browser with default security settings, and did not opt out of tracking and collation via Google's "Ads preference Manager."

If the case is successful, potential claimants would then be asked to register with the group, in order to receive compensation. The group believes approximately 5.4 million individuals were affected during the defined period, and may be eligible for compensation, though as the court will determine the amount if the case goes against Google, it is unknown how much each claimant could receive.

"Through this action, we will 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," said Lloyd. "In all my years speaking up for consumers, I've rarely seen such a massive abuse of trust where so many people have no way to seek redress on their own. That's why I've taken on one of the biggest fights of my life in representing this legal action."

Representative actions in the UK are relatively rare, with the group claiming this to be the first of its kind against a major tech company concerning the "alleged mass misuse of personal data." Unlike US-style class actions, the UK's representative actions do not permit "punitive" damages that can inflate the levels of compensation, and are not conducted with a jury.

In the United States, Google was ordered by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to pay a civil penalty of $22.5 million for its security settings bypass in 2012. A year later, Google agreed to pay a $17 million settlement to 37 states and the District of Columbia over the matter.

Google did avoid class-action lawsuits in the U.S., with one Delaware judge dismissing one instance due to the plaintiffs' inability to sufficiently prove the firm had caused any real harm with the bypass. The U.K. Court of Appeal did not see things the same way in 2015, denying Google's request to block such lawsuits.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 12
    Good to hear. :-) 
    racerhomie
  • Reply 2 of 12
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 1,781member
    So Google was sued here in the U.S., where's my money?????? That's right,.. like other B.S. class action lawsuits, the only real winner are the lawyers. Still that happened in 2012 when Google was doing it's own thing. It's 5 years later and they're just now getting around to it? It's been a non-issue for the last 5 years also. This class action should be thrown out at this point.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 3 of 12
    adm1adm1 Posts: 868member
    jbdragon said:
    So Google was sued here in the U.S., where's my money?????? That's right,.. like other B.S. class action lawsuits, the only real winner are the lawyers. Still that happened in 2012 when Google was doing it's own thing. It's 5 years later and they're just now getting around to it? It's been a non-issue for the last 5 years also. This class action should be thrown out at this point.
    Welcome to the speed of UK court system. If you read up on the history of the case, it was only possible after Google lose a Court of Appeal back in 2015 over the Safari Workaround opening the door for this class action. This is just how long things take in the UK courts, tbh this is quite speedy - I was in and out of court for almost 2 years over a Careless Driving charge, in the end it was thrown out as there was no evidence and it was a totally different car involved - it still took 2 years to get to that point though.
    muthuk_vanalingamviclauyyc
  • Reply 4 of 12
    jbdragon said:
    So Google was sued here in the U.S., where's my money?????? That's right,.. like other B.S. class action lawsuits, the only real winner are the lawyers. Still that happened in 2012 when Google was doing it's own thing. It's 5 years later and they're just now getting around to it? It's been a non-issue for the last 5 years also. This class action should be thrown out at this point.
    Let me get this straight.

    You didn’t get justice.

    As a result, no one else should get a chance at it?
  • Reply 5 of 12
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,878member
    polymnia said:
    jbdragon said:
    So Google was sued here in the U.S., where's my money?????? That's right,.. like other B.S. class action lawsuits, the only real winner are the lawyers. Still that happened in 2012 when Google was doing it's own thing. It's 5 years later and they're just now getting around to it? It's been a non-issue for the last 5 years also. This class action should be thrown out at this point.
    Let me get this straight.

    You didn’t get justice.

    As a result, no one else should get a chance at it?
    Everyone is entitled to seek "justice". In the US the issue came down to showing there was any harm done. As far as personal privacy there apparently was not as the cookies the bypass set don't collect personal information anyway. In the UK they may have a different standard of showing harm and may find better success as getting some recompense from Google, Vibrant Media, Pointroll and others using a similar way of ignoring user preferences. Reportedly it was something widely used in the advertising business. 
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 6 of 12
    gatorguy said:
    polymnia said:
    jbdragon said:
    So Google was sued here in the U.S., where's my money?????? That's right,.. like other B.S. class action lawsuits, the only real winner are the lawyers. Still that happened in 2012 when Google was doing it's own thing. It's 5 years later and they're just now getting around to it? It's been a non-issue for the last 5 years also. This class action should be thrown out at this point.
    Let me get this straight.

    You didn’t get justice.

    As a result, no one else should get a chance at it?
    Everyone is entitled to seek "justice". In the US the issue came down to showing there was any harm done. As far as personal privacy there apparently was not as the cookies the bypass set don't collect personal information anyway. In the UK they may have a different standard of showing harm and may find better success as getting some recompense from Google, Vibrant Media, Pointroll and others using a similar way of ignoring user preferences. Reportedly it was something widely used in the advertising business. 
    If Google loses then the there is a good chance that Google will have to stump up for the other sides lawyers. That means that the people bringing the case will get all the damages awarded by the court.
    Personally, I hope that Google gets taken to the cleaners and a precident is set. Then they can move on to Facebook and all the rest.
  • Reply 7 of 12
    dachardachar Posts: 330member
    The people suing Google are no amateurs. They will no doubt present a good case. They may have a chance of winning this, which will be good.
  • Reply 8 of 12
    jbdragon said:
    So Google was sued here in the U.S., where's my money?????? That's right,.. like other B.S. class action lawsuits, the only real winner are the lawyers. Still that happened in 2012 when Google was doing it's own thing. It's 5 years later and they're just now getting around to it? It's been a non-issue for the last 5 years also. This class action should be thrown out at this point.
    You’re confused. There wasn’t a class action suit in the US, they were fined by the FCC and the states. Like it says in the article.
    edited November 2017
  • Reply 9 of 12
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,878member
    jbdragon said:
    So Google was sued here in the U.S., where's my money?????? That's right,.. like other B.S. class action lawsuits, the only real winner are the lawyers. Still that happened in 2012 when Google was doing it's own thing. It's 5 years later and they're just now getting around to it? It's been a non-issue for the last 5 years also. This class action should be thrown out at this point.
    You’re confused. There wasn’t a class action suit in the US, they were fined by the FCC and the states. Like it says in the article.
    Google was the target of a class-action suit here in the US too a couple years back. It was dismissed as the plaintiffs could not demonstrate damages from it. Otherwise a number of individual states filed suit against Google but those were all settled for a total of $17M if I'm correct. In those cases the states and/or their legal representation rec'd the money rather than individual plaintiffs so perhaps that's what the OP was referring to. 
  • Reply 10 of 12
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 1,781member
    polymnia said:
    jbdragon said:
    So Google was sued here in the U.S., where's my money?????? That's right,.. like other B.S. class action lawsuits, the only real winner are the lawyers. Still that happened in 2012 when Google was doing it's own thing. It's 5 years later and they're just now getting around to it? It's been a non-issue for the last 5 years also. This class action should be thrown out at this point.
    Let me get this straight.

    You didn’t get justice.

    As a result, no one else should get a chance at it?

    What justice?  On some minor thing, wrong sure, but considering all that crap people put out there freely anyway,  what’s the big deal 5 years later.  You think you’ll get anything worth wild if Google ends up losing or settles?  The only winners are the lawyers.  Maybe you get a coupon for some dumb thing.  Like $5 off when you spend $50 or more on a Google product!!!  If you get anything,  it’ll be something dumb like that.  Google still wins, and they’re now collecting even more data in you.

    i’ve been in these class actions before.  It’s a joke!!!  I’ll bet you, if you get anything at all,  it’s be something lame like I said above.  The lawyers get millions, you’ll get a $5 off coupon from Google.  Good luck with that.  Justice has been served!!!
  • Reply 11 of 12
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 1,781member
    jbdragon said:
    So Google was sued here in the U.S., where's my money?????? That's right,.. like other B.S. class action lawsuits, the only real winner are the lawyers. Still that happened in 2012 when Google was doing it's own thing. It's 5 years later and they're just now getting around to it? It's been a non-issue for the last 5 years also. This class action should be thrown out at this point.
    You’re confused. There wasn’t a class action suit in the US, they were fined by the FCC and the states. Like it says in the article.

    No I’m m not confused, I know what I said.  It was a bogus government fine.  Google got off with a cheap slap, and the people that it actually effected didn’t see a penny of it.  Government got a bonus to waste on more crap.  It’s a complete joke.   Class Action or fine, the people it actually effected don’t get anything.   This class action will either be tossed, or the people will get a joke of a settlement.  The only winners are the lawyers.  Or the government when they threaten to fine and get big chunk of bonus money.  Fines are a joke. Class Actions are almost as bad.  Besides trying to prove some person was harmed is going to be pretty hard to do.
  • Reply 12 of 12
    iqatedoiqatedo Posts: 1,549member
    A brief aside.... I have (reluctantly) a facebook account so that I can keep up with a particular group activity. I do not leave a window open and clear cookies and cache when signing off. I also have the 'prevent cross-site tracking' facility enabled on Safari and yet, FB cache and cookies are constantly loaded onto my system. Interested to know whether anyone here without a FB account has this experience too.
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