Google Tries to Shift UK Privacy Lawsuit to the USA
A UK group seeking to file a lawsuit against Google over how it bypassed privacy settings on Apple's iPhone claim that the company is trying to avoid having the lawsuit heard in the UK.
Legal documents filed by Google in response to a claim by three people backed by a campaign group with the longwinded name of "Safari Users Against Google's Secret Tracking", claims that Google will contest the right of Safari web browser users in the UK to bring a case in the country they live in and where they use Google's service.
Safari is the web browser supplied with Apple's iPhone, and Google paid a US$22.5 million fine in the USA over how it circumvented privacy settings in order to use tracking cookies when users visited websites containing its adverts.
The cookies do not in of themselves identify the individual, but can build up a behaviour pattern of the user of the web browser. Often used to improve advertising relevance, they can be however be blocked by the user.
Google developed a method of evading that blocking request.
According to the UK based campaign group which is seeking to sue the company, Google has refused to accept service of the lawsuit in the UK, instead forcing the victims to serve on the company in California.
Marc Bradshaw, one of the ten claimants launching the lawsuit, believes this latest development is just another ruse by Google to avoid responsibility for its actions: "It seems to us absurd to suggest that consumers can't bring a claim against a company which is operating in the UK and is even constructing a $1 billion headquarters in London."
Google has already come under sanctions from the UK's privacy regulator over how it collected personal information from Wi-Fi hotspots when preparing its StreetView service, but the regulator has limited powers to fine or sanction companies.
Dan Tench, a partner at Olswang, the law firm acting for the claimants, said: "Our regulator should listen to consumers and recognise that other sanctions are needed to get Google to behave."
The campaigners are suing Google for breaches of confidence and privacy, computer misuse and trespassing, and breach of the Data Protection Act of 1998.