A BRITISH COURT HAS GIVEN the green light to a case in the UK that will see Google sued over the secretive placing of cookies on the home machines of people who use Apple's Safari browser.
People who accessed the internet via Safari during a nine-month period over 2011 and 2012, and might have been affected by wonky privacy settings, can now seek satisfaction from Google.
"On the face of it, these claims raise serious issues which merit a trial. They concern what is alleged to have been the secret and blanket tracking and collation of information, often of an extremely private nature about and associated with the claimants' internet use, and the subsequent use of that information for about nine months. The case relates to the anxiety and distress this intrusion upon autonomy has caused," ruled the court.
Google confirmed the court's decision to The INQUIRER, and it does not appear that the company will take it on the chin. "We're disappointed with the court's decision, and are considering our options," said a spokesperson.
Google has already been hauled over the coals about this, and was forced to pay a rather sizeable $22.5m for its troubles. A group for affected parties exists on Facebook.
New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman found in 2013 that Google had circumvented the Safari web browser's privacy features to track users' internet activity. Google was fined $17m.
"Consumers should be able to know whether there are other eyes surfing the web with them. By tracking millions of people without their knowledge, Google violated not only their privacy, but their trust," said Schneiderman at the time.
"We must give consumers the reassurance that they can browse the internet safely and securely. My office will continue to protect New Yorkers from any attempts to deliberately expose their personal data."
Action against Google in the UK had already been set in motion, and a dozen plaintiffs were backed by law firm Olswang.
"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." µ
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