In Brief

Google sued by British iPhone users in £1bn snooping claim

Class action accuses internet giant of data privacy breach

Millions of British iPhone users are suing Google in a class action that claims the US tech giant unlawfully harvested their personal information by bypassing default privacy settings on smartphones.

Google allegedly used the Safari browser to track the online behaviour of 5.4 million iPhone users in the UK, and then used the data in its DoubleClick advertising business, which enables advertisers to target content according to a user’s browsing habits. 

The London High Court claim - led by the former executive director of consumer body Which?, Richard Lloyd - claims Google’s tactic, known as the Safari Workaround, breached the UK Data Protection Act by taking personal information without permission, the Financial Times reports.

The group claim is expected to be heard in 2018, The Times says. Although the size of any potential payout would be determined by the court, the group are aiming to get at least £200 for each of the iPhone users, who were allegedly tracked between June 2011 and February 2012.

Responding to the complaint, Google told the BBC: “We have defended similar cases before. We don’t believe it has any merit and we will contest it.”

The company has paid out millions in the US over the Safari security bypass, says the news website. In 2012, for example, Google paid $22.5m (£16.7m) to settle charges by America’s Federal Trade Commission that it misled iPhone users over whether it was collecting their data.

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