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United Kingdom group launches class action suit against Google over iPhone data harvesting

01 December 2017, 05:38 | Ross Houston

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Google was sued by a group of United Kingdom consumers over claims that the company improperly collected personal data from millions of users of Apple's iPhone.

According to Google You Owe Us, the search engine breached the UK Data Protection Act by taking personal information without permission. The legal action is part of a campaign called Google You Owe Us and is being spearheaded by a man named Richard Lloyd.

He added, "Hopefully, therefore, this will be the last time we hear of any alleged surreptitious data collection from unknowing victims who may have believed they had taken the necessary steps to prevent it occurring".

Although they could each get several hundreds of pounds if the case were to be successful, the group says its objective is as much about accountability as compensation.

Lloyd said on Thursday that Google's actions were "quite simply against the law".

The legal action is the latest to be based on claims that Google harvested the browsing histories of iPhone owners by using an algorithm bypassing the default privacy settings on the iPhone to block user tracking.

Peter Vicary-Smith, chief executive of consumer rights group Which?, welcomed the campaign, saying that people had to put their trust in big corps because of the increasingly large role they play in everyone's day-to-day lives.

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Google said the lawsuit was not new.

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.

Lloyd told Sky News: "My job is to represent everyone that was affected by this breach of trust by Google to make sure that these vast companies have to be held accountable in the British courts".

That's some fighting talk from Lloyd, but Google appears to be rather nonplussed by the class action.

Despite its confidence, back in 2012 Google agreed to pay $22.5 million in response to a similar case brought against it by the Federal Trade Commission.

KitGuru Says: It's not often that we see tech related class-action lawsuits filed in the UK. "We don't believe it has any merit". So, we are unsure why the company feels like it has better chances in the UK.

Google has dismissed the case and said it is ready to fight it in court.



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