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Google faces UK legal action over Safari tracking

So far, so bad
Mon Jan 28 2013, 09:43
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INTERNET ADVERTISING BROKER Google is facing some delayed legal action in the UK over having tracked iPhone and Safari users without their knowledge.

Google has already admitted to this, saying that it was a bug and an error and should not have happened. Last November the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) fined Google $22.5m.

Perhaps smelling the blood in the water, 12 plaintiffs have banded together in the UK to seek their own satisfaction.

Law firm Olswang is handling the case, which could open Google to damage payments. Not just for the 12, but also for anyone else with an iPhone that used Google via the Safari browser.

"Google has a responsibility to consumers and should be accountable for the trust placed in them," said Dan Tench, a partner at Olswang.

"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."

Google has not commented to us, but according to a report at Mashable it is looking to remove all traces of the case from legal diaries in the US and squash any class action lawsuits.

The firm has filed a motion to dismiss saying now, as before, that any the cookies it used did not collect personal information.

It says that if any personalised ads were served it is probably because of some information handed over by the user at some time and to another firm. It adds that the people that are calling themselves victims will not have been harmed.

In the UK a Facebook page has been set up to encourage more plaintiffs to come forward. The group, called Safari Users Against Google's Secret Tracking, is in no doubt that the search firm is in the wrong.

"Google deliberately undermined protections on the Safari browser so that they could track users' internet usage and to provide personally tailored advertising based on the sites previously visited. There was no way to know that Google did this. In fact, they made it clear that they did not do this on the Safari browser," it says.

"It could mean for many users that surprises such as engagements, presents and holidays were destroyed when partners looked at their computers and saw display ads based on sites previously visited. There are many examples of the inappropriate consequences of such intrusion." µ


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