Last December a news story broke about Google bypassing security settings in iOS, allegedly to collect information about iPhone users. essentially the company was accused of installing tracking cookies without the user's consent, something that Apple doesn't allow to happen with its Safari browser. It led to Google paying out a $22.5 million settlement in the US, and for a class action lawsuit to be launched by the group 'Google You Owe Us' - led by former Which? director Richard Lloyd.
That case was put in front of the High Court back in May, with sought damages for the 4.4 million users affected between 2011 and 2012. The bad news is that today it's been dismissed from the High Court.
The lawsuit alleged that Google had collected sensitive information about users, including things like their race, financial situation, shopping habits, political opinions, class, sexuality, and more. Google denied this, claiming that the only information these cookies collected was aggregated data and couldn't be used to identify any of the individual users.
Now Justice Warby has sided with Google, with the lawsuit thrown out, claiming Lloyd hadn't managed to prove iPhone users had suffered "damage" as a result of the bypass. He also noted that it would be difficult to reliably calculate the number of iPhone users that might be affected, meaning letting the lawsuit continue would use up a "considerable amount of court time" for compensation that is "modest at best". He noted Google is definitely in the wrong, and it's actions a breach of duty, but said that "the main beneficiaries of any award by the end of this litigation would be the funders and the lawyers by a considerable margin".
"Today’s judgement 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,” he said in a statement. “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."