iPhone users’ lawsuit against Google thrown out of court


Case explores the legality of data collection.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

A lawsuit against Google, claiming to represent 4.4 million iPhone users, has been thrown out of court by a U.K. judge.

The Apple-using coalition, a group called “Google You Owe Us,” was asking for up to $1 billion in damages. This was to have been split among Safari users affected by Google’s allegedly unlawful data collection, which involved Google supposedly bypassing privacy settings to categorize users for advertising.

The data collection took place between August 2011 and February 2012. According to “Google You Owe Us” founder Richard Lloyd, who organized the suit, Google collected information relating to users’ racial and ethnic origin, physical and mental health, political persuasion, sexuality, and social class. This is in addition to users’ location, financial situation, and buying habits. This data was then passed on to advertisers.

Hugh Tomlinson QC, who represented Lloyd in the case, said that this information gathering amounted to, “clandestine tracking and collation” of data.

No real winners in this case

The case was ultimately thrown out of court this week — although Google wasn’t made out to be much of a winner.

Judge Mark Warby, presiding over the case, said that Google had behaved in a way that was arguably, “wrongful, and a breach of duty.” However, he also said that not every member of the class action-style suit had the “same interest” when it comes to proving harm. Lloyd had argued that the customers shared mutual interests in being affected by data collection.

“Not everything that happens to a person without their prior consent causes significant or any distress,” Warby said. “Some are quite happy to have their personal information collected online, and to receive advertising or marketing as a result. Others are indifferent.”

“Google You Owe Us” has said that it plans to appeal the decision. “People are only now beginning to realize the implications of losing control of their personal data in this way,” the group said in a formal statement. “Closing this route to redress puts consumers in the U.K. 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.”

Source: The Guardian


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