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Google faces mass legal action at High Court over data collection

GOOGLE faces a mass legal action at the High Court today over allegations that it unlawfully collected personal information from millions of iPhone users.

Campaign group Google You Owe Us, led by former Which? director Richard Lloyd, is seeking at least £1 billion in compensation for around 5.4 million iPhone users.

The lawsuit alleges that, between June 2011 and February 2012, Google bypassed default privacy settings on iPhones to track users’ online behaviour on the Safari web browser.

It is said that Google then used the data collected through “the Safari Workaround” to target iPhone users for the tech giant’s DoubleClick advertising business, in breach of the Data Protection Act.

Google, however, maintains that the English courts do not have jurisdiction to hear the case.

When the lawsuit was launched in November, Mr Lloyd said the case, the first of its kind in Britain to be brought against a tech giant for allegedly misusing personal data, was “one of the biggest fights of my life.”

He added: “I believe that what Google did was quite simply against the law. Their actions have affected millions and we’ll be asking the courts to remedy this major breach of trust.  

“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 a massive abuse of trust where so many people have no way to seek redress on their own.”

A Google spokesman previously said: “This is not new. We have defended similar cases before.

“We don't believe it has any merit and we will contest it.”

nCulture secretary Matt Hancock admitted yesterday that just four social media companies had turned up to a meeting with him on internet safety.

Mr Hancock told the BBC Andrew Marr Show that the government would put forward legislation imposing fines on companies that fail to enforce anti-bullying or harassment rules.

He said: “The fact that only four companies turned up when I invited the 14 biggest gave me a big impetus to drive this proposal to legislate through.”

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