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Google blasted as 'arrogant' for trying to move UK privacy case to the US

16 Dec 2013
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Google has been accused of "arrogant" behaviour as it attempts to have a privacy case brought by UK citizens heard in California, rather than the UK.

Google allegedly circumvented privacy settings in the iOS version of Apple's Safari browser, using cookies to serve targeted adverts. Google insists that the tracking was accidental.

Google has already paid $17m in compensation to 38 US states and $22.5m in fines to the US Federal Trade Commission over the Safari browser tracking case. The firm said that it is looking for confirmation that the case is strong enough to go ahead. 

The claimants, a group who call themselves Safari Users Against Google's Secret Tracking, insist that because Google has a strong UK presence, its misdemeanours should be challenged here too.

Judith Vidal-Hall, part of the group, said: "Google is very much here in the UK. It has a UK-specific site, it has staff here, it sells adverts here, it makes money here. It is ludicrous for it to claim that, despite all of this very commercial activity, it won't answer to our courts.

"If consumers are based in the UK and English laws are abused, the perpetrator must be held to account here, not in a jurisdiction that might suit them better. Google's preference that British consumers should travel all the way to California to seek redress for its wrongdoings is arrogant, immoral and a disgrace."

Dan Tench partner at law firm Olswang, which is representing the group, said: "British users have a right to privacy protected by English and European laws. Google may weave complex legal arguments about why the case should not be heard here, but it has a legal and moral duty to users on this side of the Atlantic not to abuse their wishes. Google must be held to account here, even though it would prefer to ignore England."

A Google spokesman dismissed these criticisms, though: "A case almost identical to this one was dismissed in its entirety two months ago in the US. We're asking the court to re-examine whether this case meets the standards required in the UK for a case like this to go to trial."

The case will be heard later on Monday.

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Michael Passingham

Michael Passingham joined V3 as a reporter in June 2013. Prior to working at V3, Michael spent time at computing magazine PC Pro. Michael covers IT skills, social media, tech startups and also produces V3's video content.

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