The UK’s High Court batted down an attempt by a consumer activist to sue Google for the collection of user data from 4.4 million iPhone users in England and Wales, though it deemed the practice “wrongful”.
Using an exploit in Apple’s browser known as the “Safari Workaround”, activist Richard Lloyd accused Google of inserting tracking cookies onto users’ devices without their knowledge or consent between June 2011 and February 2012. Reports stated he was seeking an order requiring Google to pay hefty compensation for each person affected by the data collection.
Court documents show Google estimated its potential liability in the case based on per capita damages could have stretched between £1 billion and £3 billion.
In his ruling, Justice Mark Warby said there is “no dispute that it is arguable that Google’s alleged role in the collection, collation, and use of data” was a “breach of duty”. However, he found Lloyd lacked support for the claim that he or others suffered damages covered by the country’s Data Protection Act as a result of the tracking.
A Google representative told Reuters the company was pleased with the decision, adding the claim against it was “without merit”.
In 2012, Google paid a $22.5 million fine to the US Federal Trade Commission to settle similar charges it bypassed privacy settings in Apple’s browser, in what was at the time the largest civil penalty ever issued by the regulator. A year later, the company agreed to pay $17 million to settle a case brought by the attorney generals of 37 states and the District of Columbia related to the same.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back