Google loses UK appeal in Safari users tracking case

The UK’s Court of Appeal has turned down Google’s request to obstruct lawsuits from British Web users from suing the company over tracking cookies and privacy violations. According to the BBC, the decision was declared on Friday.

The case is concerned with Apple’s Safari browser, Google’s Safari workaround, and cookies installed on PCs that record data on surfing activities. Google intentionally bypassed Safari’s default privacy settings, which restrict websites from setting cookies unless the user has interacted with those sites directly.

Google’s tracking cookies gathered information on Safari browser users for nine months in 2011 and 2012.Google used to install DoubleClick tracking cookies on computing devices and leading users to tailored advertisements. The DoubleClick ID Cookie tracks and gathers data about the user based on Web activity and searches.

This information can include various elements including surfing habits, ethnicity, religious and political beliefs, and potentially financial data.

The court was brought by three British PC users arguing that Google ignored the privacy right to not have tracking cookies installed on their machines.

But Google proclaimed that consumers suffered no financial hardship due to the tracking practices. The UK’s Court of Appeal disagreed. According to the court’s judgment:”These claims raise serious issues which merit a trial. They concern what is alleged to have been the secret and blanket tracking and collation of information, often of an extremely private nature … about and associated with the claimants’ Internet use, and the subsequent use of that information for about nine months. The case relates to the anxiety and distress this intrusion upon autonomy has caused.”

British Web users accessing the web through Apple devices, including Macs, iPhones and iPads during the nine-month period now have carte blanche to take the tech giant to court if they feel their privacy has been violated.

According to the BBC, Google is “disappointed with the court’s decision.”

Ehacking Staff
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