Google faces United Kingdom class action over iPhone data snooping

Posted Декабря 01, 2017

Google is facing legal action on behalf of 5.4m people in England and Wales over allegations that it unlawfully collected personal data from iPhone users by bypassing privacy settings.

It claims between 2011 and 2012 Google used algorithms to bypass default privacy settings on the iPhone.

Earlier this year, Google found itself in rough waters after the Information Commissioner's Office revealed that Google DeepMind, an artificial intelligence platform created to enable machines to learn things for themselves, processed almost 1.6 million "partial patient records containing sensitive identifiable personal information" as part of clinical safety testing and to confirm if the technology was safe to deploy during live operations.

In 2012, it was reported Google (among other companies that rely on advertising) used its failed Google+ platform to confuse a security feature in Safari, giving it the ability to track cookies even when a user didn't interact with a website. Google, says the action, was able to introduce a workaround which beat the blocking, and thus "watch" how iPhone owners were using their phones, feed that data back into its ads network and thus send better targeted adverts to the users. In 2016, they earned $80 billion from advertising alone.

Richard Lloyd, former director of consumer body Which?

Lloyd stated that after the action was lodged Google responded that he must "come to California" if he wanted to pursue any sort of legal action against the firm. "Their actions have affected millions, and we'll be asking the courts to remedy this major breach of trust", Lloyd told the Guardian.

On Google's end, a spokesperson said that the company has "defended similar cases before", adding that the company believes this lawsuit has no merit.

But the group stressed that the case goes "beyond financial motivations" as it will "make an example of one of the world's biggest companies". "If successful, those affected by Google's actions and who qualify will get the compensation they are owed".

"Those affected do not have to pay any legal fees, conduct any research or (at this stage) contact any lawyers", the group said in a statement. Ultimately, the court ordered Google to pay off a $22.5 million penalty, almost the largest fine ever given by the Federal Trade Commission.

It is expected to be brought to court early next year, although no date has yet been set for a hearing.

The issue was first brought up back in 2013, but Google argued at the time that it did not have to answer to the English courts and that United Kingdom privacy laws don't apply to it, as an American company.