iPhone users angry over cookies placed on their devices
Hundreds of British iPhone users have joined a class action lawsuit against Google over claims it illicitly installed cookies on their devices to track their web habits.
With around ten million iPhone users in the UK, a legal settlement could cost the search giant dearly as word spreads of the compensation demands.
Law firm Olswang has already started proceedings against the company, claiming that during 2011 and 2012 it bypassed security measures built into Apple’s Safari web browser, violating users’ rights.
Olswang solicitors had originally notified Google on behalf of a dozen clients, but hundreds of others have since contacted the firm requesting to be a part of the class action. Around 50 people are believed to be in the formal process of joining the case, with lawyers expecting more this week.
Google was fined $22.5 million (£14.3 million) by US regulators over the incident last year, but so far is refusing to comment on the UK action. It is the first time the company has been threatened with a group claim over privacy in Britain.
Previously Google has admitted deliberately sidestepping security settings on Apple’s Safari web browser, storing ghe cookies on its DoubleClick advertising network.
Solicitors for the UK claimants have meanwhile ordered Google to reveal how it used the private information, how much personal data was taken and for how long. It is thought a claim for breaches of confidence, privacy and computer misuse wil be brought under the Data Protection Act 1998.
Based in London but with offices across Europe and in Singapore, Olswang specialises in technology, media and telecommunication law, recently advising Gamesys Group, one of the UK’s leading online gaming groups, on its acquisition of Virgin Games.
* WhatsApp, the popular mobile messaging application that’s estimated to have been downloaded more than 100 million times, has been accused of violating international privacy rules by regulators in Canada and the Netherlands. Like many social networking apps, Whatsapp requires users to grant access to their smartphone’s address book.
But data protection officials in Ottawa and The Hague claim even the information belonging to users who hadn’t granted consent was still being uploaded, even though whatsApp stores items such as phone numbers in a “hashed” or anonymised format. The California-based company had taken steps to improve the privacy of its service, but the regulators insist there are issues that still need addressing.