Internet regulation: Google sued over iPhone tracking

28/01/2013

Google is being sued by a group of web users in the UK for undermining the security settings on Apple's Safari browser to track online usage covertly.

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The move means that some 10 million Britons could have grounds to launch a privacy claim over the way Google circumvented Apple's security settings on the iPhone, iPad and desktop versions of its Safari web browser to monitor their behaviour.

The campaigning group, called "Safari Users Against Google's Secret Tracking" have instructed the law firm, Olswang, to coordinate the claims and are marking Data Privacy Day tomorrow (Jan 28) by launching a Facebook page to provide information to the many other people who might also have been affected.

The Facebook page can be found here.

The claims centre around tracking cookies, which had been installed by Google on the computers and mobile devices of people using Apple's Safari internet browser.

According to Olswang, through its DoubleClick adverts , Google designed a code to circumvent privacy settings in order to deposit the cookies on computers in order to provide user-targeted advertising.

"The claimants thought that cookies were being blocked on their devices because of Safari's strict default privacy settings and separate assurances being given by Google at the time. This was not the case," the Law firm said.

The practice was only stopped when an academic researcher noticed Google's activity and published an expose in the United States. Google was subsequently found to be in violation of an existing order from the US Federal Trade Commission and was fined a record $22.5million.

Olswang say that this action breached their clients' confidence and privacy and are now seeking damages, disclosure and an apology from the company.

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