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Why Buying A Google Product Is High Risk, Especially If You Value Your Privacy

If you are thinking of buying a Google product this Christmas you may want to have second thoughts, with the big search Company facing court action for harvesting personal information after already settling out of court with several people who exposed the search Companies antics.

Everyone knows that Google is into collecting as much data as they can about you, from that personal image, to where you have been, to who you are associating with.

They can even match your voice via one of their Google Home devices or track you with one of their own Wi Fi systems.

Now the Company is being taken to court, accused of collecting the personal data of millions of users, in the first mass legal action of its kind.

It focuses on allegations that Google unlawfully harvested information from 5.4 million UK users by bypassing privacy settings on their iPhones.

The group taking action – Google You Owe Us – is led by ex-Which director Richard Lloyd.

He estimates the users could get as much as “several hundred pounds each”.

The case centres on how Google used cookies – small pieces of computer text that are used to collect information from devices to deliver targeted ads.

The complaint is that for several months in 2011 and 2012 Google placed ad-tracking cookies on the devices of Safari users which is set by default to block such cookies.

‘Abuse of trust’

The Safari workaround, as it became known, affected a variety of devices but the UK case will focus on iPhone users.

Mr Lloyd said: “In all my years speaking up for consumers, I’ve rarely seen such a massive abuse of trust where, so many people have no way to seek redress on their own.”

He added: “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.”

Mr Lloyd said Google had told him that he must “come to California” if he wanted to pursue legal action against the firm.

“It is disappointing that they are trying to hide behind procedural and jurisdictional issues rather than being held to account for their actions,” he said.

Google told the BBC: “This is not new – we have defended similar cases before. We don’t believe it has any merit and we will contest it.”

US precedent

Those affected do not have to pay any legal fees or contact any lawyers as they will automatically be part of the claim, unless they wish to opt out.

The case is being supported by law firm Mishcon de Reya, which specialises in large-scale litigation.

Although there is no precedent for such a mass legal action in the UK, there is in the US.

Google agreed to pay a record $22.5m in a case brought by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on the same issue in 2012.

The firm also settled out of court with several UK consumers.

The case will be heard in the UK High Court, probably in spring 2018.

 

 

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