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iPhone users in the UK could be owed £750 in compensation from Google over an illegal data breach. If you had an iPhone between 2011-2012, you could be eligible. But don't go booking a holiday just yet, nothing has been decided.
Google will go to Supreme Court tomorrow after the former director of Which?, Richard Lloyd, accused the internet giant of illegally gathering private data from iPhone users in 2011-2012.
Google is accused of farming private information such as race, age and sexuality from iPhones through Apple's default web browser - Safari. That private data was then allegedly sold to advertisers by Google for its targeted advertising. Even people whose Safari browser was set to block third-party cookies might have been affected.
Mr Lloyd is leading a campaign, Google You Owe Us (GYOU), and believes more than 5.4 million iPhone users in the UK could be entitled to compensation. Martin Lewis, financial journalist and founder of MoneySavingExpert.co.uk, is supporting the campaign.
Here's everything you need to know about the legal action against Google and how to find out if you're eligible for compensation.
Google regularly uses personal data to help sell targeted advertisements to its users, which is legal if data protection laws are followed.
However, between June 2011 and February 2012, Google You Owe Us said Google breached data protection laws by bypassing privacy settings in Safari on iPhones, which allowed an algorithm to 'trick' iPhones into handing over users' personal data.
"We believe that Google took millions of iPhone users' personal information illegally in 2011 and 2012." Said Google You Owe Us.
"Google did this by bypassing default privacy settings on the iPhone's Safari browser. This has been called "the Safari Workaround". The workaround tracked internet browsing history, which Google then used to sell a targeted advertising service.
"Google makes huge amounts of money from selling targeted advertising. In 2016, they earned $80 billion from advertising alone."
A Google spokesperson told us: "These claims relate to events that took place a decade ago and that we addressed at the time. We look forward to making our case in court."
Google You Owe Us launched the legal campaign in November 2017. It was originally blocked by the English High Court after the judge ruled it would be difficult to calculate exactly how many people were affected. But a Court of Appeal has said the case can proceed.
The Supreme Court hearing of Lloyd vs Google LLC will begin on Wednesday 28th April 2021.
"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." Said Lloyd, speaking about the case to Money Saving Expert in 2017.
"That's why I've taken on one of the biggest fights of my life in representing this legal action, which is the first of its kind in the UK against a major tech company for misusing our valuable personal data."
Anybody who owned an iPhone between 2011-2012 are encouraged to go to Google You Owe Us and answer the questionnaire on their website to see if they meet the following criteria:
a) Were you at any time between 1 June 2011 and 15 February 2012 present in England and Wales and whilst present:
i) Did you have an Apple ID?
ii) Did you own or were you in lawful possession of an iPhone?
iii) Did you use the Safari browser to access the internet?
iv) Did you keep the default security settings in the Safari browser?
v) Did you not opt-out of tracking and collation via Google's "Ads preference Manager"?
b) Were you resident in England and Wales on 31 May 2017?
"If the case is successful, members of the claimant class will be asked to register in order to receive money they are owed," it says.
Remember that the court hasn't come to a decision yet, so there may be no payouts at all.
If you did meet the criteria set out by GYOU, you'll be automatically included in the 'class' (the people affected) and you'll be asked to prove this at a later date.
The best thing to do is to keep an eye on GYOU's website.
The hearing takes place on 28th April 2021 and it could take upto 12 months for the Supreme Court to decide if Google did breach data protection laws in 2011 and should compensate people for this.
If you meet the criteria, but you don't want to claim money from Google (if the court hearing is successful), you need to let GYOU know by going to this page and giving them some contact details.
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