The Inquirer-Home

Google doesn’t fancy a UK court case on Safari tracking

Trivial, maybe
Tue Dec 17 2013, 12:54
Google Logo

INTERNET SEARCH AND ADVERTISING FIRM Google would rather not see a UK legal case go ahead.

Google does not fancy going to trial on the case because it will only have a "trivial" result, the firm claimed.

The case centres around that time that Google circumvented security protection in the Apple Safari browser. Google is already in hot water over this, and apparently it has had enough.

Though the firm would not be drawn into commenting about this to us, it has been vocal about it in court wranglings, and has petitioned firmly against the appointment with the beak.

This summer it tried to argue that the case should not be considered in the UK, as it would not apply to it. According to a statement from the law firm representing the claimants, an outfit called Olswang, the firm is not based in the UK, and does not think it should be judged in the UK.

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

"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."

It didn't, and apparently it still hasn't. A report at the Telegraph said that Google has asked for the case to be thrown out. Google's attorney, Antony White QC, said that Google would rather that claimants approach it in America, adding that any payouts are likely to be small.

"We're asking the court to re-examine whether this case meets the standards required in the UK for a case like this to go to trial," a Google spokesperson told Wired.

Hugh Tomlinson, the claimant's attorney, took exception to the suggestion that the cases are "trivial" and the recent push for negotiations by Google.

"We say there are very serious and important issues which relate to how Google, a corporation of immense wealth and power, deals with private information and the individuals who use their services," he said, according to the Telegraph. "We wholly reject the idea these are trivial and uninteresting claims sounding in trivial sums and the court should not entertain them,".

Open rights campaigner and claimant Judith Vidal-Hall, added, "Google is very much here in the UK. It has a UK-specific site, it has staff here, it sells adverts here, it makes money here. It is ludicrous for it to claim that, despite all of this very commercial activity, it won't answer to our courts.

"If consumers are based in the UK and English laws are abused, the perpetrator must be held to account here, not in a jurisdiction that might suit them better. Google's preference that British consumers should travel all the way to California to seek redress for its wrongdoings is arrogant, immoral and a disgrace."

Tench said that Google may try to spin a legal web, but added that users should be legally protected in Europe. 

"British users have a right to privacy protected by English and European laws. Google may weave complex legal arguments about why the case should not be heard here, but it has a legal and moral duty to users on this side of the Atlantic not to abuse their wishes," he added. "Google must be held to account here, even though it would prefer to ignore England."

The claimants have gathered under a Safari Users Against Google's Secret Tracking banner. µ


Share this:

blog comments powered by Disqus
Subscribe to INQ newsletters

Sign up for INQbot – a weekly roundup of the best from the INQ

INQ Poll

Heartbleed bug discovered in OpenSSL

Have you reacted to Heartbleed?