Apple users launch U.K. legal case against Google tracking

Apple users launch U.K. legal case against Google tracking

Summary: A group of Apple users in the UK have launched a legal case against Google after the search giant was found to have bypassed privacy settings in the Safari browser by U.S. authorities.

TOPICS: Privacy, Apple, Google, iPhone

Apple users in the U.K. have launched a legal campaign against Google following the Safari 'tracking' row that erupted last year. 

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) settled with Google for $22.5 million last year for bypassing the security settings in Apple's Safari browser to display buttons for its Google+ social network on advertisements.

But now a group called "Safari Users Against Google's Secret Tracking" has instructed a law firm to coordinate claims a day ahead of the sixth annual Data Privacy Day in the U.K.

One person has already come forward to bring legal action against the search giant. The law firm representing the group said that the search giant had "breached their clients' confidence and privacy and are now seeking damages, disclosure and an apology" from Google.

In prepared remarks, Olswang lawyer Dan Tench said: "Google has a responsibility to consumers and should be accountable for the trust placed in them. We hope that they will take this opportunity to give Safari users a proper explanation about what happened, to apologise and, where appropriate, compensate the victims of their intrusion."

Cookies were installed on computers and devices without the users' authorization, despite having strong privacy and security settings in place that would prevent the installation of such tracking files on their devices. 

Through Google's DoubleClick advertising network, Google designed and implemented code that would install cookies on devices in order to provide user-targeted advertising, the group claims.

The search giant eventually admitted to the practice, saying it "created a temporary communication link between Safari browsers and Google's servers," but had since stopped.

The Safari tracking incident affected Safari browsers on the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Safari-using Windows PCs and Macs.

Google avoided a full-blown investigation by U.S. federal authorities by settling early. The search giant was accused of breaking a promise made during a 2011 settlement with the FTC over controversy surrounding its Buzz service. Google was told in the first settlement not to "misrepresent the extent to which consumers can exercise control over the collection of their information."

The search company did not have to admit wrongdoing in the U.S., which was subsequently criticized by privacy groups. 

Topics: Privacy, Apple, Google, iPhone

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  • Now is time for

    Now is time for "Internet Explorer Users Against Google's Secret Tracking" group. Google, when and where you lost "no" from yours mantra "Do no evil"? Now is just "Do Evil".
    • KN

      I think that the original as quoted was a spelling mistake.

      I think Google's practice has always been more consistent with

      "Do know evil"
      Henry 3 Dogg
  • Stop using Google spy services

    It's pity that lot of educated people still uses Google services. But it’s never too late to do something about it, dump all their 'free' services. There are better alternatives out there.

    A real YouTube replacement is overdue
    • ... and mail, ...

      ... mobile solutions, maps, search, online documents, ....
      I'm still waiting for competition too.
      • Re:I'm still waiting for competition too

        You do not have to wait
        mail: Outlook
        search: bing
        online documents: SkyDrive offer access to Word, Excel, OneNote and PowerPoint
        You don't need youtube to, there are many better services, like DailyMontion.
        • Puleeeze. Bing Sucks.

          At least Bing navigation started out better than Apple maps..It may have taken you out of your way to get there, but it did follow actual pavement.
        • I've tried several times

          And read reviews and even some say they are better, they simple don't work for me.
          Outlook is the best mail application I know of, but is as bad as hotmail is/was... or even worse.
          Office 365 is cool for sharing office documents, but online editing it's just terrible.
          I admit that I use google search for the habit of it, can't really tell if bing is better or not, I do know google is good enough for me.... but I should give bing a try.
          Youtube is just unbeatable - you can find anything and everything there.
          And I must have in mind mobile applications to access all those services, again google apps seems to be light years ahead of the rest.
        • No

          hotmail/outlook is just as monitored as gmail, same goes with bing search. Isn't it time we spoke the truth and stop with this "google is the only evil fcker tracking us" line, it simply is not true.
          Bing search - not as relevant, personal choice, but as they both 'spy' on you who cares
          Bing maps - in the UK - you're having a giraffe - seriously, try it for anything off a motorway
          Dailymotion - now that confuses me. You're not going on record to say it's a contender with utube? If you are, well then I'll take my comments back and simply ignore you for being an anti-google shill.
          Little Old Man
  • the zombies are out there now

    Latest victim goig
    Master Wayne
  • Apple's great security beaten!

    Google must have had an entire Black Hat convention working for them to figure out this tiny flaw in Safari. Oh, wait..APPLE SECURITY?? BWWAA HAA HAHAHAHA
  • lol

    The funny part is that I'm pretty sure that Google "bypassed Safari's privacy settings" completely by accident in this case.

    By adding +1 buttons to their advertisements, they fooled Safari into thinking that the ads weren't really ads, which caused their cookie blocking feature to ignore Google's advertisements. In any case, it's pretty clear that Safari's cookie blocking isn't really all that effective.
  • Use duckduckgo for searching.

    It is not tracked.
    While I agree that Google screwed up, and should suffer a penalty (including a public admission) I can't imagine anybody actually proving damages.
    • Very difficult to prove actual damages

      and punitive damages virtually impossible to gain in UK/EU courts.

      So they basically expect to get an apology and nothing more. This isn't the US, there isn't going to be £50K awarded for hurt feelings.
      Little Old Man