High court blocks mass privacy lawsuit against Google

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The UK’s High Court has blocked a mass lawsuit against Google which sought damages for the company’s practice of gathering data on iPhone users who specifically said they didn’t want to be tracked.

The decision was announced by Mr Justice Warby, sitting in London, on Monday, The Guardian reports.

Justice Warby said that “it is arguable that Google’s alleged role in the collection, collation, and use of data obtained via the ‘Safari workaround’ was wrongful, and a breach of duty”. However, it was also said that Google’s actions did not cause damage to users, and that it was impossible to group everyone who was potentially affected into one class, for the purpose of the lawsuit.

The judgment concludes that: “The damage sustained and the compensation recoverable by each represented individual are modest at best. The main beneficiaries of any award at the end of this litigation would be the funders and the lawyers, by a considerable margin.”

Google was looking at a fine of £3bn, had the lawsuit gone through.

Campaign group Google You Owe Us started the litigation, with former Which? director Richard Lloyd leading the charge. The litigation claimed each user’s damages go up to £750. There are a total of 4.4 million affected users, it claimed.

In a statement, Lloyd said: “Today’s judgment is extremely disappointing and effectively leaves millions of people without any practical way to seek redress and compensation when their personal data has been misused.

“People are only now beginning to realise the implications of losing control of their personal data in this way. Closing this route to redress puts consumers in the UK at risk and sends a signal to the world’s largest tech companies that they can continue to get away with treating our information irresponsibly.”

Google was concise, saying “The privacy and security of our users is extremely important to us. This claim is without merit, and we’re pleased the court has dismissed it.”

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