Google Facing UK Lawsuit Over Alleged Tracking of Safari Users Between 2011-12

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Google is facing a collective lawsuit in the United Kingdom over its alleged snooping of iPhone users, according to a new report in the Financial Times. According to the lawsuit, led by a former director of the consumer group Which?, Google illegally gathered the personal data of millions of iPhone users in the U.K. between 2011 and 2012.

Veteran consumer rights campaigner Richard Lloyd alleges the search giant bypassed the default privacy settings on Apple's smartphones which allowed it to track the online behavior of users browsing in Safari. Google then allegedly used the data in its DoubleClick business, which lets advertisers target content based on user browsing habits.

Original explanation of the "Safari Workaround" in 2012 WSJ article

The lawsuit, filed in London's High Court, claims Google's "Safari Workaround" breached the U.K. Data Protection Act by taking personal information without permission.
"In all my years speaking up for consumers, I've rarely seen such a massive abuse of trust where so many people have no way to seek redress on their own," said Mr Lloyd, who has set up a group called Google You Owe Us.

Google said: "This is not new - we have defended similar cases before. We don't believe it has any merit and we will contest it."
The case Google refers to occurred in the U.S. in 2012, after it and several other advertising agencies were discovered to be circumventing privacy protections in Safari for iOS in order to track users through ads on numerous popular websites.

At the time, Safari blocked several types of tracking, but made an exception for websites where a person interacted in some way -- by filling out a form, for example. Google added coding to some of its ads that made Safari think that a person was submitting an invisible form to Google, and thus Safari let Google install a cookie on the user's phone.

Google halted the practice once it was reported by the Wall Street Journal, but argued that the tracking was unintentional and did not harm consumers. However, that didn't wash with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, and the company was forced to pay a record $22.5 million fine over its use of the tactic.

Around 5.4 million people in Britain are said to have owned an iPhone between June 2011 and February 2012, when Google's "Safari Workaround" was active, and could be eligible for compensation, according to the U.K. lawsuit.

Today's news also marks the first time a collective action has been brought in the U.K. against a leading tech company over alleged misuse of data. "Collective action" is where one person represents a group with a shared grievance, similar to a class action lawsuit in the U.S.

Lloyd, who has secured £15.5 million ($20.8 million) in funds from a litigation company, said he expected each claimant would receive several hundred pounds in the event that they win the case. As a ballpark figure, a claim by 5.4 million people for £500 each would result in a £2.7 billion ($3.63 billion) payout for Google.

"We think there is a massive gap in the law in terms of consumer redress around data rights being breached," said Lloyd. He hoped the legal battle would result in a clear set of guidelines and precedent for consumers as to how they could act collectively in similar future cases.

Article Link: Google Facing UK Lawsuit Over Alleged Tracking of Safari Users Between 2011-12
 

pika2000

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Jun 22, 2007
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“It wasn’t intentional and we have now disabled it,” says Google seemingly every time they get caught.
And they will just find another way. They will always get a free pass amongst the tech community because everybody is making money with Google Ads.
 
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rtomyj

macrumors 6502a
Sep 3, 2012
802
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To those saying people are paranoid about Google tracking you. Here you go. Feel bad for the people paying $800 for the new pixels. Paying a premium and still getting milked through ad tracking.
 

morty192

macrumors regular
Jul 26, 2010
191
4
How do you know if your device was affected or is it simply anyone that owned an iPhone in the U.K. at that point?
 
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H2SO4

macrumors 601
Nov 4, 2008
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To those saying people are paranoid about Google tracking you. Here you go. Feel bad for the people paying $800 for the new pixels. Paying a premium and still getting milked through ad tracking.
Don't think it's that big a deal. Here's why...
I heard an interview with the guy running this thing and he was asked if he used Google. He said that he didn't.
What about YouTube? was the next question. Yes, that's right - he still uses it.

I remember Apple slating Google for years and now they have a YT channel and even back then it was the default search engine on iOS and probably OSX too. They also use Google analytics.

The mantra most people and almost all companies live by, "If you can't feel the pain financially, it's not real pain." Lot's on this forum are exactly the same. Myself included.

If you knowingly use any google product you are partly to blame also.
 

Sasparilla

macrumors 65816
Jul 6, 2012
1,310
1,987
Don't think it's that big a deal. Here's why...
I heard an interview with the guy running this thing and he was asked if he used Google. He said that he didn't.
What about YouTube? was the next question. Yes, that's right - he still uses it.

I remember Apple slating Google for years and now they have a YT channel and even back then it was the default search engine on iOS and probably OSX too. They also use Google analytics.

The mantra most people and almost all companies live by, "If you can't feel the pain financially, it's not real pain." Lot's on this forum are exactly the same. Myself included.

If you knowingly use any google product you are partly to blame also.
Breaking the Public Trust is always a big deal - this is where the government who sets the rules of the road needs to step in and make such mistakes so financially painful that execs make sure such things don't happen going forward. Unfortunately Google "mistakes" like this keep coming to light fairly frequently lately - far from their "Do No Evil.." pledge.

Regarding using Google products, you have a point - but its also relevant to point out, that for Video, YouTube is the Internet and has been for years. Once someone has cornered a market, there is little choice for the consumer. Facebook is trying to do the same with VR via Oculus (at a much, much earlier stage).
 
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Darmok N Jalad

macrumors 68000
Sep 26, 2017
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Don't think it's that big a deal. Here's why...
I heard an interview with the guy running this thing and he was asked if he used Google. He said that he didn't.
What about YouTube? was the next question. Yes, that's right - he still uses it.

I remember Apple slating Google for years and now they have a YT channel and even back then it was the default search engine on iOS and probably OSX too. They also use Google analytics.

The mantra most people and almost all companies live by, "If you can't feel the pain financially, it's not real pain." Lot's on this forum are exactly the same. Myself included.

If you knowingly use any google product you are partly to blame also.
It’s certainly hard to avoid Google in every capacity. I use YouTube on occasion, though mostly because someone sends me a link to a video. I use Google Earth Pro because my workplace uses it, and heck, it’s actually a useful and productive piece of software (so of course Google is trying to move its functionality to Chrome). I did actually go to the trouble of deleting my Google accounts, though who knows how effective that really is if they’ve demonstrated the ability to track people in other ways?
 

H2SO4

macrumors 601
Nov 4, 2008
4,353
3,752
Breaking the Public Trust is always a big deal - this is where the government who sets the rules of the road needs to step in and make such mistakes so financially painful that execs make sure such things don't happen going forward. Unfortunately Google "mistakes" like this keep coming to light fairly frequently lately - far from their "Do No Evil.." pledge.

Regarding using Google products, you have a point - but its also relevant to point out, that for Video, YouTube is the Internet and has been for years. Once someone has cornered a market, there is little choice for the consumer. Facebook is trying to do the same with VR via Oculus (at a much, much earlier stage).
Really we're all complicit, and that's the trouble. I don't like the way Apple do a lot of things, but guess what - when I want one of their products I conveniently forget their elaborate tax schemes. They like to beat Google up here but choose to forget the fact that Apple use them and have used them and will probably continue to do so extensively.
Same with Samsung. There are so many people here that hate them yet buy Apple products and their SSDs. When it's a small component part of the bigger picture I can understand it but they are a major part of certain Apple devices, except when that happens it's Ok it seems.

A good example for you, I know someone that refuses to buy products that have eggs from battery hens. If she can't easily satisfy herself that they are from 'abuse free' chickens she won't buy.
Small example but that's conviction as not only does she have to go through the hassle of finding out, but eggs from other sources are more expensive to boot.
[doublepost=1512064484][/doublepost]
Breaking the Public Trust is always a big deal - this is where the government who sets the rules of the road needs to step in and make such mistakes so financially painful that execs make sure such things don't happen going forward. Unfortunately Google "mistakes" like this keep coming to light fairly frequently lately - far from their "Do No Evil.." pledge.

Regarding using Google products, you have a point - but its also relevant to point out, that for Video, YouTube is the Internet and has been for years. Once someone has cornered a market, there is little choice for the consumer. Facebook is trying to do the same with VR via Oculus (at a much, much earlier stage).
I have only started using YouTube a lot in the past year. It had been around for 11 years before that but somehow I survived. I don't use Facebook, Instagram or Twitter et al either, between them they are the internet and have been for a while. Call me anti social but I don't feel like I'm missing out.
As with everything, someone has to be first to take a stand and feel the pain. Why not make it yourself and refuse to use all Google products?
 
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rtomyj

macrumors 6502a
Sep 3, 2012
802
688
Don't think it's that big a deal. Here's why...
I heard an interview with the guy running this thing and he was asked if he used Google. He said that he didn't.
What about YouTube? was the next question. Yes, that's right - he still uses it.

I remember Apple slating Google for years and now they have a YT channel and even back then it was the default search engine on iOS and probably OSX too. They also use Google analytics.

The mantra most people and almost all companies live by, "If you can't feel the pain financially, it's not real pain." Lot's on this forum are exactly the same. Myself included.

If you knowingly use any google product you are partly to blame also.
Kinda. I use Adblock on YouTube. They get no money from me. If Google does this stuff, it is to bypass user options. The people on the Android side might not have an option. It's either opt out and still get tracked or just get tracked.

You're correct that chances are someone is using a Google product but not all are the same evil. With analytics you get a free way to get insight into your business/site. What will Google do with that? I don't use Google search so I won't see ads, I use Adblock on YouTube so no ads there. I also don't use the online version of gmail (which at least used to show ads). With Gmail you get email but there are hundreds of alternatives. I personally use it to sign for stuff like dominoes or jimmy johns or whatever. Again they can waste their time analyzing that account since I won't see a single ad since I'm not on their OS, or browser.

That's where it ends with me. YouTube, Gmail, analytics. And I don't see any ads.

Now imagine if they are allowed to continue this trend. They will make users pay for their device and still make money off their data. People call Apple greedy, I just don't think they know what that means exactly.
 

MH01

Suspended
Feb 11, 2008
12,118
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Some new entertainment, Samsung v apple lawsuits were getting boring ....
[doublepost=1512066147][/doublepost]
Kinda. I use Adblock on YouTube. They get no money from me. If Google does this stuff, it is to bypass user options. The people on the Android side might not have an option. It's either opt out and still get tracked or just get tracked.

You're correct that chances are someone is using a Google product but not all are the same evil. With analytics you get a free way to get insight into your business/site. What will Google do with that? I don't use Google search so I won't see ads, I use Adblock on YouTube so no ads there. I also don't use the online version of gmail (which at least used to show ads). With Gmail you get email but there are hundreds of alternatives. I personally use it to sign for stuff like dominoes or jimmy johns or whatever. Again they can waste their time analyzing that account since I won't see a single ad since I'm not on their OS, or browser.

That's where it ends with me. YouTube, Gmail, analytics. And I don't see any ads.

Now imagine if they are allowed to continue this trend. They will make users pay for their device and still make money off their data. People call Apple greedy, I just don't think they know what that means exactly.
They are heading to server side ads. So they will make sure you view them if you want to watch video content
 

udayan81

macrumors regular
Sep 8, 2017
137
258
Either google always is tracking something or its just that apple hasn't been caught at it yet. one way or the other someone or the other is always tracking to collect more information about you and sell it.
 

katbel

macrumors regular
Aug 19, 2009
201
85
“It wasn’t intentional and we have now disabled it,” says Google seemingly every time they get caught.
Yeah....Look in the Safari/Advanced/Website Data
Even in iOS 11.1 the cookies are still there. I was able to see those, both visible and invisible
using an app on my Mac that let you browse your backup.
I just discovered that they look like 0 kb but actually they are not 0 kb. The folder hosting the cookie-data shows 0 kb, but inside the folder there are so many files that go from 4 kb to 33 kb, total of 450 kb.
0 is written on the url-name of the folder

One of the invisible is
https_mail.google.com_0

What is even worse is that I thought I had only one persistent cookie but actually there are 3 more and they don't show in Safari/Advanced/Website Data
The visible cookie I have shows 0 but actually is 528 kb and what is worse is adding files almost every day.

The files are 3 kinds

.wal-shm

.db

.wal

and there are several of them, Google has 96, total of 2.1 Mb and it's one of the invisible cookies, adding files everyday as well

Good that Google "is not spying any longer" :confused:

I use 1Blocker and I always browse in private mode...that is the result!:(
 

rtomyj

macrumors 6502a
Sep 3, 2012
802
688
Some new entertainment, Samsung v apple lawsuits were getting boring ....
[doublepost=1512066147][/doublepost]

They are heading to server side ads. So they will make sure you view them if you want to watch video content
Haha it's been nice YouTube. I mean, I usually put videos as background audio and for quick guides so I won't really miss it.
 
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Sill

macrumors 6502a
Nov 14, 2014
696
477
It’s certainly hard to avoid Google in every capacity. I use YouTube on occasion, though mostly because someone sends me a link to a video. I use Google Earth Pro because my workplace uses it, and heck, it’s actually a useful and productive piece of software (so of course Google is trying to move its functionality to Chrome). I did actually go to the trouble of deleting my Google accounts, though who knows how effective that really is if they’ve demonstrated the ability to track people in other ways?
Deleting is a great first step, but what we really need is protection from shadow profiles. Aside from looking stuff up on Youtube, I don't use anything they offer. Yet Google knows quite a bit about me, because of people who correspond with me and use Gmail. People who decide to use their online suite, and upload their entire contact list to Google, including my home phone, cell phone, address, and notes about me. I have no choice in the matter.

I rarely if ever say "someone oughta pass a law...", in fact I loathe 99 percent of what government does, but here is one place I'd like them to step in and crush someone for abusing their power. Just because someone uses your services doesn't mean that every person that person knows wants you to know anything about them.

Instead of government intervention I'd really like to see someone develop a crawler that can invade every Google server and backup and erase the data of people who choose to opt-out of Google. I would rejoice if that ever happened.
[doublepost=1512094651][/doublepost]
I remember Apple slating Google for years and now they have a YT channel and even back then it was the default search engine on iOS and probably OSX too. They also use Google analytics.
My Ghostery list for Apple sites always shows Adobe Analytics, not Google Analytics. Where are you seeing Google pop up on Apple sites?
 

kdarling

macrumors P6
To those saying people are paranoid about Google tracking you. Here you go. Feel bad for the people paying $800 for the new pixels. Paying a premium and still getting milked through ad tracking.
Kind of like paying over $1,000 for an iPhone, even while Apple milks billions in Google primary search engine kickback each year.

The main difference is, Google at least gives us cool services in return.
 
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rtomyj

macrumors 6502a
Sep 3, 2012
802
688
Kind of like paying over $1,000 for an iPhone, even while Apple milks billions in Google primary search engine kickback each year.

The main difference is, Google at least gives us cool services in return.
Never heard of an investment where the entity taking the money in the wrong. Business is business. Personal data should be personal. Double dipping is hurtful to users. Google services are ok. Some are better than others thanks to low concern on user privacy. Meh.