IPHONE users in the UK could be in line for a £750 payout from Google as the search giant this week battles a class action lawsuit over alleged illegal data harvesting.
The mass legal action against the company claims it collected sensitive data from millions of iPhone owners who used the Safari web browser between 2011 to 2012.
Consumer champion Richard Lloyd alleges that information on people’s health, race, ethnicity, sexuality and finance was gathered even when users had chosen a “Do not track” privacy setting.
The case, which is worth as much as £3.2billion, could see more than four million iPhone users handed £750 in compensation.
The Supreme Court will be hearing Google’s appeal on April 28 and 29.
Mr Lloyd, a former director at Which?, launched the case in 2018.
A mass legal action against Google claims it collected sensitive data from 4.4million iPhone users in the UK[/caption]
It was quickly thrown out by the High Court after a judge said it was difficult to calculate how many people had been effected.
However, that decision was overturned in 2019 by three Court of Appeal judges.
The litigation is being brought by campaign group Google You Owe Us, led by Mr Lloyd.
The group hopes to win at least £1billion in compensation for an estimated 4.4million users of the devices in the UK.
The claim alleges that Google bypassed privacy settings on Apple iPhone handsets between August 2011 and February 2012 and used data to divide people into categories for advertisers.
Mr Lloyd claims “browser generated information” collected by Google included racial or ethnic origin, physical and mental heath, political affiliations or opinions, sexuality and sexual interests and social class.
It is also said that information about an individual’s financial situation, shopping habits and their geographical location were obtained and that the data was then aggregated and users were put into groups such as “football lovers” or “current affairs enthusiasts”.
Google data payout – are you eligible for compensation?
Here's what you need to know…
Consumer champion Richard Lloyd has created a website for people who think they’re eligible for compensation from Google.
Those who are eligible are automatically enrolled into the case. Here are the criteria:
1. Were you in England and Wales at any time between June 1, 2011 and February 15, 2012?
2. Did you have an Apple ID?
3. Did you own or have lawful possession of an iPhone?
4. Did you use the Safari browser to access the internet?
5. Did you keep the default browser settings?
6. Did you not opt-out of tracking an collation via Google’s ‘Ads preference manager’?
7. Were you resident in England and Wales on May 31, 2017?
It is possible to opt out of the case if you want.
If compensation is awarded at a later stage, people will have to prove they were iPhone users between June 1, 2011 and February 15, 2012.
These were then offered to subscribing advertisers to choose from when deciding who to direct their marketing to, according to the claim.
Mr Lloyd’s lawyers told a High Court hearing in May 2018 that the data was gathered through “clandestine tracking and collation” of information relating to internet usage on iPhone users’ Safari browser – known as the “Safari Workaround”.
They also said the activity was exposed by a PhD researcher in 2012 and Google has already paid $39.5million (£32.1million) to settle claims in the United States.
Mr Lloyd’s application to serve notice of the legal action on Google outside the jurisdiction of England and Wales was refused by the High Court in October 2018.
But, following a challenge by Mr Lloyd, three judges at the Court of Appeal concluded the legal action can go ahead.
In a summary of the court’s ruling, Chancellor of the High Court Sir Geoffrey Vos said: “The claimants that Mr Lloyd seeks to represent will all have had their browser generated information (BGI) – something of value – taken by Google without their consent in the same circumstances during the same period.
Google allegedly nicked data without consent through Apple’s Safari browser[/caption]
“The represented class were all victims of the same alleged wrong, and had all sustained the same loss, namely loss of control over their BGI.”
Google had contended that the type of “representative action” being brought against it by Mr Lloyd is unsuitable and should not go ahead.
Lawyers for the company said there is no suggestion the Safari Workaround resulted in any information being disclosed to third parties.
Google has previously argued that the case should be dismissed because the data was harvested ten years ago.
A spokeswoman for the tech firm said: “Protecting the privacy and security of our users has always been our number one priority.
“This case relates to events that took place a decade ago and that we addressed at the time. We believe it has no merit and should be dismissed.”
TOP STORIES IN TECH
In other news, cyber security researchers have revealed that 4million Google Chrome users may have had their private photos and videos nicked.
Here’s how to see Google’s creepy map showing everywhere you’ve ever been – and how to turn it off.
And, Apple took a huge dig at Google and Amazon with a giant data privacy billboard in Las Vegas.
Do you think you’re eligible for a payout? Let us know in the comments!
We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online Tech & Science team? Email us at [email protected]