A class action brought in the UK by campaign group “Google You Owe Us” was blocked in the High Court yesterday (Monday 8th October 2018). They allege that in 2011/12 Google bypassed privacy settings on Apple iPhone handsets and collected data about millions of people in contravention of the Data Protection Act 1998. The High Court was told that the information collected by Google included data about race, sexuality, political leanings and social class.
Google You Owe Us hopes to secure compensation for 4.4m iPhone users in the UK. If successful, Google could have to pay £3.3bn (£750/affected user). In 2012 Google paid a fine of $22.5m (£14.4m) to the US Federal Trade Commission on similar grounds.
However, yesterday Mr Justice Warby stopped the claim from proceeding, because it had not been established that Google’s actions had caused “damage” and due to the difficulties involved with reliably calculating the number of iPhone users in the UK who might have been affected.
Richard Lloyd, a former director of the consumer group Which? is leading this litigation for the campaign group. Commenting on the High Court’s ruling, Mr Lloyd said “closing this route to redress puts consumers in the UK at risk and sends a signal to the world’s largest tech companies that they can continue to get away with treating our information irresponsibly”.
An appeal is planned. Watch this space.
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