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.

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

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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