Safari users in the UK can now sue Google over alleged privacy breaches

Google founders Larry Page and Sergey BrinGetty/Justin SullivanGoogle founders Larry Page (L) Sergey Brin talk with members of the media at Google Press Day 2006 May 10, 2006 in Mountain View, California

Google has lost a court battle in the UK to stop people suing it over alleged privacy breaches, the Guardian reports.

Google has been trying to force the High Court to reverse its decision, which ruled that a group of Safari users in the UK could sue it for damages. Now that Google has lost its case in the Court of Appeal, the group can go ahead and sue.

The court battle came after users of Apple’s Safari web browser claimed that Google was getting around a Safari setting that blocked Google tracking users, and then using data to show personalised adverts, where it shouldn’t have been.

A group of Safari users has been trying to sue Google for damages over what they see as privacy violations. But the company has tried to block that action in UK courts, arguing that nobody actually lost any money through its actions.

Google has already paid fines in the US over the tracking of Safari users. The BBC reports that the FTC fined Google over $US40 million in total, and 38 US states have also brought fines against Google for its actions.

Here’s a statement from the Court of Appeal on the judgement:

These claims raise serious issues which merit a trial. They concern what is alleged to have been the secret and blanket tracking and collation of information, often of an extremely private natureā€¦ about and associated with the claimants’ internet use, and the subsequent use of that information for about nine months. The case relates to the anxiety and distress this intrusion upon autonomy has caused.

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