The big tech news doing the rounds this morning is that Google is being sued for snooping on at least 5.4 million iPhone users. Spearheaded by former Which? director, a new consumer campaign called ‘Google You Owe Us’ has launched a class action against the web giant over allegedly unlawful harvesting of data.
Demanding compensation of around £500 per user, the total compensation bill could rise to an eye-watering £2.7 billion. But is Google worried? Not a chance. So far, Goggle’s official stance is: “This is not new — we have defended similar cases before. We don’t believe it has any merit and we will contest it.”
However, Google’s confidence is unlikely to deter the action group led by ex-Which? director and former government advisor Richard Lloyd. He said: “I believe that what Google did was quite simply against the law. Their actions have affected millions, and we’ll be asking the courts to remedy this major breach of trust. Through this action, we will send a strong message to Google and other tech giants in Silicon Valley that we’re not afraid to fight back if our laws are broken. In all my years speaking up for consumers, I’ve rarely seen such a massive abuse of trust where so many people have no way to seek redress on their own. That’s why I’ve taken on one of the biggest fights of my life in representing this legal action, which is the first case of its kind in the UK against a major tech company for misusing our valuable personal data."
The case relates to a six month period between June 2011 and February 2012, when Google allegedly unlawfully harvested the personal information of millions of people in the UK by bypassing the default privacy settings on the Apple iPhone.
Peter Vicary-Smith, chief Executive at Which?, said: "People have to put their trust in big companies like Google because they increasingly play a large role in our everyday lives. To have this good faith rewarded by Google taking advantage of people’s information without their consent is something that rightly must be challenged. This welcome campaign should empower consumers by bringing the issue into the spotlight and enabling those affected to rightly seek collective compensation."