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Google taken to court in the UK for skirting iPhone security to collect user data

Published Nov 30th, 2017 7:45AM EST
Google iPhone Privacy Breach
Image: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP/REX/Shutterstock

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Google was caught with its hands in the cookie jar again, but before you freak out, you should know this privacy-related scandal isn’t new.

Google is going to face a class action suit in the UK only now, but for wrongdoings dating back to 2011 and 2012. Google was caught skirting the iPhone’s Safari security to quietly collect data from more than 5 million people. At the time, Google fixed the issue, but it looks like it came back to haunt it.

From June 2011 to February 2012, Google collected personal data from iPhones after bypassing the privacy settings of Apple’s Safari browser. Facebook and other online advertising networks were also found abusing the browser’s settings at the time.

Google said back then that the practice was limited to its Google+ push, a service Google hoped to rival Facebook one day. But the new class action suit alleges that Google used that data to sell targeted ads.

According to The Guardian, the former executive director of consumer body Which? Richard Lloyd is leading the charge against Google.

The group is called Google You Owe Us, and says that up to 5.4 million people in Britain who used an iPhone during June 2011 and February 2012 might be entitled to compensation.

“I believe that what Google did was simply against the law. Their actions have affected millions, and we’ll be asking the courts to remedy this major breach of trust,” Lloyd said. “Through this action, we will send a strong message to Google and other tech giants in Silicon Valley that we’re not afraid to fight back if our laws are broken.”

“In all my years speaking up for consumers, I’ve rarely seen such as massive abuse of trust where so many people have no way to seek redress on their own. This is … the first case of its kind in the UK against a major tech company for misusing our valuable personal data.”

“I want to spread the word about our claim. Google owes all of those affected fairness, trust and money. By joining together, we can show Google that they can’t get away with taking our data without our consent and that no matter how large and powerful they are, nobody is above the law,” he concluded.

For Google, meanwhile, this is just another Thursday, as all this privacy-infringing talk isn’t new. “We have defended similar cases before. We don’t believe it has any merit and we will contest it,” a spokesperson said.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.