Did you get snooped?

Did you get snooped?

Tech giant Google, has been accused of collecting the personal data of millions of iPhone users in the UK without their knowledge or consent.


In the first mass legal action of its kind in the UK, a group by the name of 'Google You Owe Us', led by ex-Which director Richard Lloyd, will be taking on Google in court. They claim that Google unlawfully harvested information from 5.4 million UK users by bypassing privacy settings on their iPhones.


The case revolves around how Google had used cookies. Cookies are small pieces of computer text that collect information from devices in order to deliver targeted ads. These used to be used behind the scenes by most websites you visited to collect information about what you viewed or clicked on. You'll see a text box or banner on most websites you visit now, advising that they use cookies and asking for your consent to do so. This has been the case since 27th May 2012, but prior to this the only way you could prevent websites from doing this was to block cookies in your browser settings.


The complaint against Google is that for several months in 2011 and 2012 they placed ad-tracking cookies on devices that used the Safari web browser, which is set by default to block such cookies. This affected a variety of electronic devices but the UK case will focus on the iPhone users.


Richard Lloyd is quoted as saying "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. 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."


The case is being supported by law firm Mishcon de Reya, which specialises in large-scale litigation. Those affected do not have to pay any legal fees or contact any solicitors as they will automatically be part of the claim. It is estimated the users affected could get as much as several hundred pounds each.


Although the UK has not seen such a mass legal action, a similar large-scale case has already happened in the US. Google agreed to pay a record $22.5m (£16.8m) in a case brought by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on the same issue in 2012.


Google has been reported as saying Mr Lloyd must "come to California" if he wanted to pursue legal action against the firm. A quote from Google stated "This is not new - we have defended similar cases before. We don't believe it has any merit and we will contest it." Mr Lloyd's response to this was disappointment that Google were "trying to hide behind procedural and jurisdictional issues rather than being held to account for their actions"


The UK case is likely to be heard in the High Court in spring 2018.

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