GOOGLE is accountable under UK privacy laws the High Court ruled yesterday, opening the company up to a lawsuit from British users who allege that Google tracked browsing without their knowledge.
The search giant had argued that claimants should have launched their case in the US where Google is based, but yesterday this was rejected.
“I am satisfied that there is a serious issue to be tried in each of the Claimants’ claims for misuse of private information,” said Justice Tugendhat, sitting at London’s High Court yesterday.
Google’s loss of its High Court bid to block privacy legal action from the group of users, known as Safari Users Against Google’s Secret Tracking, will open the company up to allegations that Google bypassed security settings on the Safari web browser during 2011 and 2012, and used data gathered to serve targeted ads.
“They are individuals resident here, for whom bringing proceedings in the USA would be very burdensome. It would be better for all parties that the issues of English law be resolved by an English court,” added Tugendhat.
Responding to the ruling a Google spokesperson said the firm would appeal the ruling, “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.”
The allegations against Google include misuse of private information, breach of confidence and of the 1998 Data Protection Act.
Specifically the group alleges that Google’s actions were a breach of a 2009 amendment to an EU directive which required informed consent before a cookie could be placed on an internet user’s device for tracking and collating purposes related to behavioural advertising.