U.K. High Court Blocks Class Action Against Google Over User Privacy

October 8, 2018, 4:53 PM UTC

A class action lawsuit brought against Google with the goal of collecting £3 billion ($3.5 billion) in compensation was blocked in the U.K. high court on Monday.

Google was accused of bypassing default iPhone privacy settings between August 2011 and February 2012, allowing the company to collect data from people in the U.K. who used the Safari browser, Wired reported. The lawsuit was brought to the High Court by a group called, Google You Owe Us led by former Which? director Richard Lloyd and represents more than 4 million iPhone users.

High court judge, Mr. Justice Warby in London announced the decision to block the lawsuit on Monday. In his ruling, he said, “it is arguable that Google’s alleged role in the collection, collation, and use of data obtained via the ‘Safari workaround’ was wrongful, and a breach of duty,” but added that Google did not cause damage to users, according to the Guardian.

The information collected by Google was allegedly used for its DoubleClick service, a tool that allows advertisers to use personal data to target people based on race, sexuality, political leanings, and social class, the Financial Times reported. The court in May heard in a hearing from Lloyd’s lawyers that the information was later used to create groups like “football lovers.” They added that Google also was able to collect information about a user’s financial situation, shopping habits, and geographical location.

Lloyd called the High Court’s decision “extremely disappointing” and added that it leaves people without any avenues for seeking justice. “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,” Lloyd said in a statement reported by the Guardian.

Google, on the other hand, dismissed the claims. “The privacy and security of our users is extremely important to us. This claim is without merit, and we’re pleased the court has dismissed it.”