Judges Say iPhone Data Collection Case Against Google Can Go Ahead
Basically, a mass legal action that claims that the technology giant collected a load of sensitive data from millions of people with iPhones has been given the greenlight after consumer champion Richard Lloyd petitioned the Court of Appeal following a previous ruling.
If it goes ahead, the case could be worth as much as £3.2bn and could see 4,000,000 iPhone users in the UK handed £750 each in compensation.
The case was previously blocked by the High Court, which is how the senior judges at the Court of Appeal ended up dealing with it.
This represents a significant worry for the world's largest search engine, given the size of the sums involved.
Speaking after the ruling was overturned, Lloyd - a former director of Which? - said: "Today's judgement sends a very clear message to Google and other large tech companies - you are not above the law.
"Google can be held to account in this country for misusing peoples' personal data, and groups of consumers can together ask the courts for redress when firms profit unlawfully from 'repeated and widespread' violations of our data protection rights.
"We will take this fight against Google all the way."
Lloyd has been leading a campaign group called Google You Owe Us that hopes to win at least £1bn for the 4.4m iPhone users in the UK.
The group claims that Google bypassed privacy settings between August 2011 and February 2012 and subsequently used the data gathered to divide people into advertising categories.
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The details that were allegedly harvested include ethnicity, political opinions and affiliations, sexuality, social class, sexual interests, physical and mental health.
Some really private information, if true.
The group also claims that financial situation, shopping preferences, and location data was used to create categories such as 'football lovers" and "current affairs enthusiasts'.
In judgement, Chancellor of the High Court Sir Geoffrey Vos, said: "The claimants that Mr Lloyd seeks to represent will all have had their browser generated information (BGI) - something of value - taken by Google without their consent in the same circumstances during the same period.
"The represented class were all victims of the same alleged wrong, and had all sustained the same loss, namely loss of control over their BGI."
Google had argued that the 'representative action' from Mr Lloyd wasn't suitable for the case. Their lawyers also contended that there is no suggestion the 'Safari Workaround' resulted in any information being disclosed to third parties.
They have also said that they are to ask for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.
A Google spokesperson said: "Protecting the privacy and security of our users has always been our number one priority.
"This case relates to events that took place nearly a decade ago and that we addressed at the time. We believe it has no merit and should be dismissed."
Featured Image Credit: PA