Alphabet has been sued in the high court in U.K. It has been accused of secretly using data of 4.4 million iPhone users.
The search company Google was taken to court in July by the iPhone users who have formed a group calling themselves; Google You Owe Us. The group being led by Richard Lloyd claimed that Google breached their privacy between August 2011 and February 2012 through the exploitation of the Safari browser.
The scheme was discovered by a Ph.D. researcher who referred to it as “Safari Workaround” in 2012. Google stands to pay up to $4.29 billion if it were to lose the case.
This may not come as a surprise because, in 2013, Google under a similar issue of data-tracking not only agreed to pay $17 million to 37 States and Washington, DC but also agreed to pay a fine of $22.5 million to the Federal Trade Commission.
On Monday, at the first hearing of the litigation, Llyod’s lawyers told the court that Google used the data they had collected to categorize users into groups. The information collected included users’ location, social class, political views, financial data, race, sexuality and sexual interests physical and mental health and shopping habits.
The lawyer went further and said that after such data was collected is when Google aggregated the data to groups like current affairs enthusiasts or football lovers. The said created groups were then passed on to subscribing advertisers.
Llyod said that he believed that Google’s actions which affected millions of users in England and Wales were simply against the law. He made it known that they’ll be asking the judge to ensure that the company was held into account.
The California-based company through its lawyer, Anthony White QC, said that the lawsuit was not interested in the compensation of the people but was only meant to damage the company’s accountability.
Google claimed there was no indications of the Safari Workaround sharing private data to third parties. It also claimed of there being no way to ascertain if anyone was affected by the collection of data.
U.K.’s Google’s communication Director said that the privacy and security of their users was extremely important to them. He also stated that the events took place six years ago and were addressed at the time.
He felt the case had no merit and should, therefore, be dismissed.