High court blocks alleged google privacy breach

An attempt to sue computer giant, Google, has fallen through in the High Court.

Former director of Which? consumer group, Richard Lloyd, led the case against Google on behalf of ‘Google You Owe Us’ – a team of individuals who claim to have been the victims of Google tracking over the period of some months in 2011 and 2012.

A total of around 4.4 million UK iPhone users are thought to have also been tracked through their handsets.

Speaking at the hearing, Mr Justice Warby explained that the facts on offer by the campaign group did not sufficiently support the claims of the alleged victims, and so the case had to be blocked.

Mr Justice Warby also underlined the extreme difficulty that lay within attempts to precisely work out how may iPhone devices and users had been affected by the potential breach of privacy.

In response to the findings of this, the first mass legal action of its nature in Britain, the Google You Owe Us leader, Mr Lloyd, expressed his disappointment in the ruling. He said that his campaign group would seek the right to appeal against the verdict in a bid to gain justice for those who had signed up to the campaign, thought to be around 20,000 individuals.

As reported on the BBC website, Mr Lloyd’s official statement read:

“Today’s judgement is extremely disappointing and effectively leaves millions of people without any practical way to seek redress and compensation when their personal data has been misused.”

Google, meanwhile, said it was “pleased” with the outcome, labelling the entire case “without merit”.

The search engine giant emphasised how “privacy and security” is of extreme importance to its users, adding “this claim is without merit, and we’re pleased the court has dismissed it.”

The situation grew from the use of the data-logging text files known as cookies, which track information on users as they move around the internet and use services online.

Those bringing the case to the courts said that Google used these cookies to track individual users and to circumnavigate the capability of Apple’s Safari software which blocks monitoring.

The information allegedly obtained by Google through this practice was then used to inform advertisement sales, it is claimed.

While Google may have got around the Safari browser in this way within UK borders, the case revolved around the effect the action had on iPhone users, with Google You Owe Us seeking compensation to the tune of £1bn for the alleged victims.

Similar accusations of unlawful data acquisition have led Google to paying $39.5m in the past, to claimants in the US.

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