Google’s claims to be outside British law have been dramatically thrown out by the High Court.
The Internet giant had hoped the courts would rule in its favour and proclaim the UK courts had no jurisdiction over the breach of privacy action put forward by Safari Users Against Google’s Secret Tracking and involving the Apple Safari Internet browser.
This was not to be however, and the judge ruling over the case, Mr Justice Tugendhat, has ruled that despite Google saying it is based in the US and therefore exempt from a court of law in the UK, the UK courts do actually have “appropriate jurisdiction” to try the claims.
He said: “I am satisfied that there is a serious issue to be tried in each of the claimant’s claims for misuse of private information.
“The claimants have clearly established that this jurisdiction is the appropriate one in which to try each of the above claims.”
The Safari Users group includes editor and publisher Judith Vidal-Hall, and Robert Hann and Marc Bradshaw, who are both directors of IT service companies. On its Facebook page, it states: “Our privacy is important. Let’s not allow Google to forget it”
This relates to allegations against the Internet giant which include misuse of private information, breach of confidence and of the 1998 Data Protection Act.
In this particular instance however, the case predominately revolves around a 2009 amendment to an EU directive.
This change in rules requires informed consent before a cookie could be placed on an Internet user’s device for tracking and collating purposes related to behavioural advertising – something claimed by the group Google did not do on Apple’s Safari Internet browser.
It is alleged by the Safari Users group that between September 2011 and February 2012, Google bypassed Safari’s security settings, in violation of British data laws. A process which Antony White QC, speaking for Google, informed the judge today (January 16) has no risk further risk of repetition or continuation since February 2012.
There is precedence for legal action against Google over such data collection, as it was fined £13.8m in the US last August for circumventing security settings on Apple products including the iPad, iPhone and Safari browser to collect advertising data for digital marketing purposes.
A Google spokesperson has said the firm will fight the decision.
He said:” A case almost identical to this one was dismissed in its entirety three months ago in the US. We still don’t think that this case meets the standards required in the UK for it to go to trial, and we’ll be appealing today’s ruling.”
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