Google is facing a class action suit in the United Kingdom for allegedly sidestepping the security feature of iPhone devices owned by some 5.4 million British users in order to amass their personal information without their consent, according to a new report by BBC. The class action lawsuit is filed by Richard Lloyd, the former director of consumer advocacy organization Which who now leads a group calling itself "Google You Owe Us".
According to the complaint, the search giant injected cookies into the devices of UK internet users who were using the Safari browser for a couple of months from 2011 to 2012. It is worth mentioning that Safari is configured by default to block ad-tracking cookies, and it is still unclear how Google managed to bypass that setting in iPhone devices. It was also possible that the alleged data collection occurred on other handsets including those that run Android, but this specific lawsuit is centered on the affected iPhone devices only. The volume of data allegedly collected by Google also remains unknown as of this time, though it could be in the millions. Lloyd claims the Mountain View, California-based internet giant could be demanded to pay several hundreds of pounds to each of the affected user. The UK's High Court is expected to hear the case in the Spring of next year.
The UK class action suit is just one of several cases faced by Google in recent times over data privacy concerns raised by both individual users and groups of consumer advocates against the company. Last July, the Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a complaint with the United States Federal Trade Commission over the privacy issues surrounding Google's new program designed to help advertisers gain insights into how online interaction influences purchases on a global scale. The complaint sought to put limitations to Google's access to the supposed 70 percent of US customer credit and debit card information under the program called Store Sales Measurement. During the same month, computer programmer and businessman John McAfee publicly criticized Google for its practices that he claimed were putting the world to danger, referring to a wide variety of privacy-related issues hurled against the internet giant over the last couple of years.