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Google faces UK legal action over Apple Safari tracking claims

28 Jan 2013

Google is facing a UK legal challenge over claims that it bypassed security settings enacted by users of Apple's Safari browser to deliver more targeted ads.

The action was launched on Sunday by 12 individuals who have instructed legal firm Olswang to act on their case.

The case centres around claims Google deliberated used code to bypass privacy settings so it could place targeted ads on users' devices when using the Safari browser.

Google was fined £22.5m by the US Federal Trade Commission over the incident in the US.

The first claimant to issue proceedings was 74-year-old Judith Vidal-Hall who outlined her frustration with the search giant.

"Google claims it does not collect personal data but doesn't say who decides what information is 'personal'," she said.

"Whether something is private or not should be up to the internet surfer, not Google. We are best placed to decide, not them."

Those issuing the legal case have also set up a Facebook page urging others to join their action.

V3 contacted Google for comment but had received no reply at time of publication.

Dan Tench, a partner at Olswang who's leading the case, said the suit was a chance for those impacted by Google's behaviour to seek redress and recompense for their actions.

"Google has a responsibility to consumers and should be accountable for the trust placed in them," he said.

"We hope that they will take this opportunity to give Safari users a proper explanation about what happened, to apologise and, where appropriate, compensate the victims of their intrusion."

The case is the latest legal headache for Google in the UK after others issues such as its Street View Wi-Fi data gathering activities led to police and Information Commissioner's Office investigations.

The action has been brought on Data Privacy Day too, to generate more publicity.

In recognition of the day, Google's chief legal officer David Drummond wrote a blog post outlining the firm's desire to protect users' data at all costs and to only adhere to government request for information when absolutely necessary.

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Dan Worth

Dan Worth is the news editor for V3 having first joined the site as a reporter in November 2009. He specialises in a raft of areas including fixed and mobile telecoms, data protection, social media and government IT. Before joining V3 Dan covered communications technology, data handling and resilience in the emergency services sector on the BAPCO Journal

View Dan's Google+ profile

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