Olswang Stories December 16, 2013

Google fights to have iPhone privacy case dismissed from UK courts

Google, which was fined $22.5M by the FTC for illegal use of tracking cookies on iPhones even when the user had set Safari to reject them, is asking the UK’s High Court to reject a claim for compensation from a group of British iPhone owners, reports The Guardian.

Google is arguing that any case should be held in the U.S., and that UK courts have no jurisdiction in the matter. It also observes that a similar claim in the USA was dismissed two months ago.

Google has been called “arrogant and immoral” for arguing that a privacy claim brought by internet users in the UK should not be heard by the British legal system […]

In the first group claim brought against Google in the UK, the internet firm has insisted that the lawsuit must be brought in California, where it is based, instead of a British courtroom … 

Lawyers for the claimants argue that the company has violated UK law, and that the case should therefore be heard by UK courts.

“British users have a right to privacy protected by English and European laws,” said Dan Tench, a solicitor from the law firm Olswang, which represents the claimants.

“Google may weave complex legal arguments about why the case should not be heard here, but they have a legal and moral duty to users on this side of the Atlantic not to abuse their wishes. Google must be held to account here, even though it would prefer to ignore England.”

While the case itself seems unlikely to succeed in any case – it being difficult to prove that harm was done to individuals – it is likely to lead to renewed debate about the legality and morality of companies doing business in one country while claiming to be legally resident elsewhere.

The British government queried back in May the accuracy of Google’s responses to questions about its tax status after the company paid just £6M ($9.7M) UK tax on a turnover of £395M ($644M).

Olswang Stories January 28, 2013

Following FTC fines, UK iPhone users sue Google for bypassing Safari privacy settings

Google agreed to pay a record $22.5 million Federal Trade Commission fine in August following an investigation into whether it bypassed mobile Safari security settings to install tracking cookies without user consent. Now, 12 iPhone users in the United Kingdom have launched a lawsuit against Google that seeks compensation related to the tracking. They also want a “proper explanation” about how their personal information was used. The Telegraph via Business Insider has the full story:

It is thought the case, being brought against Google by law firm Olswang on behalf of the internet users, is the first of its kind in the UK. They say that cookies, small tracking files, were installed by Google on the Apple computers and mobile devices of those using the Safari internet browser without their knowledge .

Claimants thought that cookies would be blocked because of assurances given by Google in the time their devices were allegedly affected, from summer 2011 to spring 2012, and also because of Safari’s default settings.

“We hope that they will take this opportunity to give Safari users a proper explanation about what happened, to apologize and, where appropriate, compensate the victims of their intrusion.”

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