Google is in the doghouse or, at least, in the courthouse. The search giant is facing a class action from a group calling itself Google You Owe US.
The legal action is specifically being taken by iPhone users based on the way that Google has dealt with the Apple devices. The group claims that Google bypass the privacy setting on iPhone’s Safari browser and, by doing so, was able to track internet browsing history for the purpose of selling targeted ads.
Google You Owe Us calls this the Safari Workaround and says that “the Safari Workaround meant that Google knew which pages we visited and how often. Google used this data to sell a service to its advertising called the ‘DoubleClick Service’. Using browsing data, the DoubleClick Service enables advertisers to target and tailor adverts according to the iPhone user’s preferences.”
The action has been prompted by an earlier case, Vidal Hall v Google in 2015. This was settled out of court but the issues raised by the trial are now being examined again.
Leading the class action is consumer rights expert, Richard Lloyd, former director the Consumers Association and Which? magazine. He’s being represented by leading law firm Mishcon De Reya.
Users are not likely to get wealthy from the case, Google You Owe Us says that damages are likely to less than £1000 but with more than five million iPhone users in the UK, that would represent a substantial payout for Google.