London's High Court yesterday blocked an attempt to bring legal action against Alphabet Inc's Google over claims it had collected sensitive data from more than 4 million iPhone users although it said the company's actions had been "wrongful". The claimants had said Google had illegally accessed details of iPhone users' internet browsing data by bypassing privacy settings on the Safari browser between June 2011 and February 2012.
Richard Lloyd, a consumer activist who was behind the "Google You Owe Us" court challenge, had estimated that about 4.5 million people had been affected by the "Safari Workaround" and wanted the tech giant to pay out several hundred dollars in damages to each affected individual. Google had argued the mass case brought by Lloyd, the only named claimant, was not appropriate and should not proceed.
"There is no dispute that 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," the judge, Mark Warby, said in his ruling. However, he said the case brought by Lloyd did not support the contention that he and those he represented had suffered "damage" as specified by Britain's Data Protection Act nor could the court allow such representative action to go ahead. In his ruling, he said the main beneficiaries of the claim would have been those who funded it and the lawyers.