iPhone users could be owed £750 compensation from Google over illegal data breaches

Friday, 4th October 2019, 11:13 am
Updated Friday, 4th October 2019, 1:14 pm

Apple fans will be pleased to hear that they could be due a payout of £750 after Google was alleged to have illegally harvested the data of iPhone users.

A mass legal action against the tech giant has been given the go ahead by the Court of Appeal. It claims that Google collected sensitive data from millions of iPhone users.

The action can go ahead after an initial decision was overturned, now allowing consumer champion Richard Lloyd to move forward with legal proceedings in support of the allegation.

The case is worth as much as £3.2 billion and could see more than four million iPhone users handed £750 in compensation.

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Tech companies are ‘not above the law’

Speaking after the ruling, Mr Lloyd said, "Today's judgement sends a very clear message to Google and other large tech companies – you are not above the law.

"Google can be held to account in this country for misusing peoples' personal data, and groups of consumers can together ask the courts for redress when firms profit unlawfully from 'repeated and widespread' violations of our data protection rights.

"We will take this fight against Google all the way."

Mr Lloyd is a former Which? Director, and set up the campaign group Google You Owe Us, which is behind the legal action.

The group’s aim is to win at least £1 billion in compensation, which would be awarded to around 4.4 million iPhone users in the UK.

The allegations claim that Google bypassed privacy settings on iPhones between August 2011 and February 2012 in order to harvest users’ data and divide them into groups for advertisers.

Mr Lloyd says that browser generated information was collected to enable people to be grouped by their sexuality, race, politics, health, opinions and social class. Information about shopping habits, finances and location is also alleged to have been collected for the benefit of advertisers.

Data allegedly sold to advertisers

Advertisers could then use these groups when deciding on demographics to market their products to.

Mr Lloyd's lawyers told a High Court hearing in May 2018 that the data was gathered through "clandestine tracking and collation" of information based on how the users’ searched in the Safari browser.

They also revealed that the breach was exposed by a PhD researcher in 2012 and that Google has already paid £32.1million in settling claims over the issue.

Google has claimed that this kind of ‘representative’ action being brought against them by Mr Lloyd on behalf of others should not be allowed to go ahead. They also claim there is no evidence that the information they gained from the Safari data harvesting was given to third parties.

The company says it will seek to appeal the decision to allow the legal action to go ahead at the Supreme Court.

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 nearly a decade ago and that we addressed at the time. We believe it has no merit and should be dismissed."