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Legal action launched against Google over mass consumer data collection 30/11/2017

Google You Owe Us has launched legal action against tech giant Google. The group, led by veteran consumer champion and former Executive Director of Which?, Richard Lloyd, aims to secure compensation for the millions of people across Britain who are believed to have had their personal information unlawfully collected by Google. The campaign is encouraging consumers to spread the word, in order to hold Google to account.

This is the first representative action of its kind in the UK against a major tech company that is centred on the alleged mass misuse of personal data.

What happened?
Between June 2011 and February 2012, it is alleged that Google unlawfully harvested the personal information of millions of people in the UK by bypassing the default privacy settings on the Apple iPhone. Google’s algorithms allowed them to trick people's iPhones into releasing personal data from the phone’s default browser, Safari. This has become known as the ‘Safari Workaround’.

Google’s business model is based on using data, like this, to send targeted advertisements to consumers. In 2016, they earned $80bn from advertising revenues alone. While tech companies monetising online data isn’t a new concept, UK data protection laws state that this must be done in accordance with a set of principles designed to protect individual’s privacy.  In this case it is alleged that Google breached those principles.

Approximately 5.4 million individuals were affected between 2011 and 2012, and could now be eligible for compensation. Google You Owe Us believes that this mass data haul was against the law and a violation of trust. A legal action is being brought on behalf of all those iPhone users. Google You Owe Us wants as many of Britain’s affected consumers to know about the claim.

Standing up for your rights
The representative claimant in the case, Richard Lloyd, has over 25 years’ experience challenging the world’s biggest companies on behalf of consumers, and helped draft some of the UK’s most important consumer rights laws. Lloyd said: “I believe that what Google did was quite simply against the law. Their actions have affected millions, and we’ll be asking the courts to remedy this major breach of trust.
 

“Through this action, we will send a strong message to Google and other tech giants in Silicon Valley that we’re not afraid to fight back if our laws are broken. By joining together, we can show Google that they can’t get away with taking our data without our consent, and that no matter how large and powerful they are, nobody is above the law.”

The legal action is supported by Mishcon de Reya.You can view the campaign’s website, from the day of launch, at YouOweUs.co.uk where affected consumers can find further information or withdraw from the claim if they wish.

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