The High Court of the UK has blocked a mass legal action court case that was filed against Google. The case claimed that the tech giant had collected sensitive data from more than 4 million iPhone users.
The tech giant faced the claims that it circumvented the privacy settings that were installed on the iPhone Safari browser of Apple between the period of August 2011 and February 2012. It said that it utilised a method that is known as the Safari Workaround, with the aim of using the data to separate users into categories that will be easily distinguishable for advertisers.
However, Justice Warby, the judge who oversaw the case, said that while there is “no dispute” against the argument that Google was wrongful in obtaining the information this way, the claims that users suffered “damage” from the workaround did not have sufficient evidence. Additionally, he said that it would be impossible to calculate the number of the iPhone users affected reliably.
The case was led by a campaign group known that is known as Google You Owe Us. It is led by Richard Lloyd, the former Which? chief.
Lloyd said that the group had 20,000 sign-ups. He said that it plans to seek permission to appeal the decision of the High Court.
In a statement, he stated: “Today’s judgement is extremely disappointing and effectively leaves millions of people without any practical way to seek redress and compensation when their personal data has been misused.”
He added: “Google’s business model is based on using personal data to target adverts to consumers and they must ask permission before using this data. The court accepted that people did not give permission in this case yet slammed the door shut on holding Google to account.”
The said case had its first hearing in May. The prosecution informed the court that Google had collected personal data on users including their physical and mental health, race, political affiliations, shopping habits, and opinions.
A spokesperson for Google stated: “The privacy and security of our users is extremely important to us. This claim is without merit, and we’re pleased the Court has dismissed it.”
Previously, the Telegraph reported that the claim could have resulted in a compensation payout of up to £3.3 billion from the search giant. The lawyers for Lloyd informed Warby that Google had already paid out $39.5 million (£30.3m) to settle similar claims in the United States.
Alphabet, the parent company of Google was fined with a record-breaking $5bn last July by the competition watchdog of the EU over “serious illegal behaviour” with its Android operating system. The regulators concluded that Google had forced operators to use Android over other services.