Google sued by iPhone users in U.K. over Safari tracking

A new privacy battle against the Web giant is heating up in the U.K. as Apple users claim their Internet habits were illegally tracked on the Safari Web browser.

Riding on the heels of the recent U.S. lawsuit against Google for Safari tracking, Apple users in the U.K. have now launched their own similar case against the Web giant.

Peeved that their online privacy was violated, roughly a dozen people are suing Google in a class action suit, according to The Guardian. The case alleges that Google secretly tracked their Internet habits via cookies in the Safari Web browser. The lawsuit revolves around the way Google may have sidestepped Apple's security settings on the iPhone, iPad, and desktop versions of Safari.

"This is the first time Google has been threatened with a group claim over privacy in the U.K.," Dan Tench, a lawyer at the London-based firm Olswang that is representing the plaintiffs, told The Guardian. "It is particularly concerning how Google circumvented security settings to snoop on its users. One of the things about Google is that it is so ubiquitous in our lives and if that's its approach then it's quite concerning."

The plaintiffs want Google to say how it used the information it allegedly got its hands on, according to The Guardian. Additionally, they want to know how much of their personal data was supposedly taken and over what period of time. They are suing Google for breaches of confidence and privacy, computer misuse and trespassing, and breach of the Data Protection Act of 1998.

In November, a U.S. judge agreed to fine Google $22.5 million in a similar case. In this suit, the Federal Trade Commission also claimed that the Web company illegally bypassed user privacy settings in Safari. The FTC and Google previously reached a settlement in August when the company agreed that it "placed an advertising tracking cookie on the computers of Safari users who visited sites within Google's DoubleClick advertising network."

At that time, Google said it takes privacy very seriously and that it didn't intentionally sidestep Safari's default settings.

According to The Guardian, damages in this suit could be in the millions since the U.K. has 10 million people who use the applicable Apple products and could sign on as plaintiffs.

CNET contacted Google for comment. We'll update the story when we get more information.

 

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