Did you own an iPhone between 2011 and 2012? You could be in line for compensation in the region of £200 as consumer group Google You Owe Us takes the search engine giant to court.
The group, led by former Which? Executive Director Richard Lloyd, believes Google illegally accessed and stored the personal data of 5.4 million iPhone users across England and Wales over an eight-month period, starting in June 2011.
According to the campaign, Google allegedly bypassed user’s default privacy settings, placing cookies on the Safari browser that allowed the company to track them without their permission.
Lloyd is leading a class action lawsuit against the search engine, believed to be the first of its kind.
Google could end up paying £2.7bn in compensation if the group wins the court battle.
According to the campaign group’s Twitter account @YouOweUs, 10,000 people have already signed up for updates since the story broke last week.
Google’s business model is based on using data, like this, to send targeted advertisements to consumers. In 2016, they earned $80bn from advertising revenues alone. While tech companies monetising online data isn’t a new concept, UK data protection laws state that this must be done in accordance with a set of principles designed to protect individual’s privacy. In this case it is alleged that Google breached those principles.- Richard Lloyd: Campaigner, Google You Owe Us
Back in 2012, Google, Facebook and a number of online advertising networks were caught engaging in these underhand tactics.
But while Google have claimed that the practice was only used during the development of Google+, Google You Owe Us are alleging otherwise.
As part of their lawsuit against the company, the consumer group are claiming that not only did Google illegally track the online activity of iPhone users – they also used the illicitly-obtained information to sell targeted advertising services.
Legal troubles for Google
Dubbed the ‘Safari Workaround’, this approach has caused trouble for Google in the past, racking the company up millions of dollars worth of legal bills in the United States. Now, Google You Owe Us is taking representative action against them on the other side of the pond.
According to a Google spokesperson, the company does not believe that Google You Owe Us has a case, and plans to contest the action. However, consumer watchdogs are not so sure.
Peter Vicary-Smith, the current 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. To have this good faith rewarded by Google taking advantage of people’s information without their consent is something that rightly must be challenged.”
If you had an iPhone during this time, you are automatically a part of the class-action claim and you won’t have to pay any legal fees, conduct any research or contact any lawyers, Lloyd says.
If you don’t want to be a part of the Google You Owe Us class action, you should notify the campaign group at YouOweUs.co.uk.