LONDON: A consumer activist launched on Thursday a lawsuit accusing Google of illegally collecting data on more than five million British iPhone users, who could possibly see a payout reaching into the hundreds of millions.
A campaign group dubbed ‘Google You Owe us’ says the tech giant owes consumers “trust, fairness and money” after unlawfully placing cookies on mobile phones between 2011 and 2012.
“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 if our laws are broken,” said Richard Lloyd, who is spearheading the legal action.
A former government adviser and executive director of consumer rights group Which?, Lloyd says he has “rarely seen such a massive abuse of trust where so many people have no way to seek redress on their own”.
Google is thought to have bypassed the default privacy settings of Apple’s Safari internet browser using a technique dubbed ‘the Safari Workaround’, planting cookies into phones before selling the information they collect to advertising network ‘DoubleClick Service’.
A cookie is a small file stored in a phone or computer which allows for the tracking of an individual’s browsing activity, information which is valuable to advertisers as it allows them to better target ads to interested consumers.