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26th Apr 2021

iPhone users could get £750 compensation from Google for data tracking

Danny Jones

If you have an iPhone, you could be entitled to an easy £750

We’re all aware that, in the modern age, our data is being harvested to some extent – it’s almost part and parcel of being so connected to everything that’s digital. But post the WikiLeaks and Cambridge Analytica scandals, the discussion around how much information share (knowingly or not) is a constant concern.

However, as per The Telegraph, it is being reported that more than four million iPhone users in Britian could be in line for £750 each in compensation from Google, as the company is currently embroiled in class action claim over data tracking in the Supreme Court this week.

As Matthew Field writes, “The tech giant is defending claims that it ‘illegally’ collected personal data from British iPhone users who used the Safari browser between 2011 and 2012.”

The former director of Which?, Richard Lloyd, took legal action against the company for data breaches back in 2018. The case was ultimately thrown out of court a year later, after the judge ruled the defendants had not been able to prove the basis for their compensation claim against Google.

However, in October 2019, three Court of Appeal judges overturned the earlier ruling; it was found that when Apple first launched Safari, it blocked third-party cookies – used to track internet users across the web – but that Google was able to engineer a way to avoid this block.

This allowed them to collect data on everything from “race, physical and mental health” to their “political leanings, sexuality, social class, financial, shopping habits […] location” and more. The ruling deemed that “[s]tripped of technicalities, its effect was to enable Google to set the DoubleClick Ad cookie on a device, without the user’s knowledge or consent”.

The case is being backed by litigation funding firm, Therium, which has raised a total of $1 billion for funding disputes and has provided £15.5m to the legal challenge spearheaded by Lloyd. This isn’t the first time the company has been investigated for similar reasons either.

As reported in the piece, “In 2012, Google faced a $22.5m fine from the US Federal Trade Commission for the data gathering and in 2013 it agreed to pay $17m to settle consumer actions in 37 states”.

Mr Lloyd’s campaign – simply called, ‘Google You Owe Us‘ – is deteremined to “[hold] one of the world’s most powerful companies to account. We say that Google illegally misused the data of millions of UK iPhone users in 2011-2012, bypassing phone privacy settings to track their browsing history”.

“Our data is hugely valuable, and the Supreme Court hearing could give consumers a viable way to get fair redress when tech giants misuse our data.”

Nevertheless, Google’s lawyers are standing firm and are arguing that they do not have to award any form of payment if it hasn’t caused the claimant “loss or distress” through the privacy breach – despite none of those affected ever being able to be made aware of it at the time.

A Google spokesman had this to say: “These claims relate to events that took place a decade ago and that we addressed at the time. We look forward to making our case in court.”

The case begins officially on Wednesday, so keep your eyes peeled: if Lloyd and his campaigners win and you’re an iPhone user in the UK, you could have £750 coming your way.