Mass action against Google over iPhone data blocked by London court

Google has been accused of illegally accessing details of iPhone users’ internet browsing data by bypassing privacy settings on the Safari browser between June 2011 and February 2012. (AFP)
Updated 08 October 2018

Mass action against Google over iPhone data blocked by London court

  • Google had argued the mass case brought by Richard Lloyd, the only named claimant, was not appropriate and should not proceed

LONDON: London’s High Court on Monday 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.
Lloyd said his group, to which 20,000 people had signed up to, would seek permission to appeal the decision.
“Today’s judgment is extremely disappointing and effectively leaves millions of people without any practical way to seek redress and compensation when their personal data has been misused,” he said in a statement.
“Google’s business model is based on using personal data to target adverts to consumers and they must ask permission before using this data. The court accepted that people did not give permission in this case yet slammed the door shut on holding Google to account.”
A Google spokeswoman said: “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.”
Google remains under pressure from lawmakers and regulators over its privacy practices in the United States, where it has acknowledged making mistakes in the past.
In 2012, it agreed to pay a then-record civil penalty of $22.5 million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it misrepresented to Apple Safari Internet browser users that it would not place tracking “cookies” or serve them targeted ads.


Huawei's third-quarter revenue jumps 27% as smartphone sales surge

Updated 16 October 2019

Huawei's third-quarter revenue jumps 27% as smartphone sales surge

  • American companies, significantly disrupting its ability to source key parts
  • Huawei was all but banned by the United States in May from doing business with American companies

SHENZHEN, SHANGHAI: Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd’s third-quarter revenue jumped 27%, driven by a surge in shipments of smartphones launched before a trade blacklisting by the United States expected to hammer its business.
Huawei, the world’s biggest maker of telecom network equipment and the No. 2 manufacturer of smartphones, was all but banned by the United States in May from doing business with American companies, significantly disrupting its ability to source key parts.
The company has been granted a reprieve until November, meaning it will lose access to some technology next month. Huawei has so far mainly sold smartphones that were launched before the ban.
Its newest Mate 30 smartphone — which lacks access to a licensed version of Google’s Android operating system — started sales last month.
Huawei in August said the curbs would hurt less than initially feared, but could still push its smartphone unit’s revenue lower by about $10 billion this year.
The tech giant did not break down third-quarter figures but said on Wednesday revenue for the first three quarters of the year grew 24.4% to 610.8 billion yuan.
Revenue in the quarter ended Sept. 30 rose to 165.29 billion yuan ($23.28 billion) according to Reuters calculations based on previous statements from Huawei.
“Huawei’s overseas shipments bounced back quickly in the third quarter although they are yet to return to pre-US ban levels,” said Nicole Peng, vice president for mobility at consultancy Canalys.
“The Q3 result is truly impressive given the tremendous pressure the company is facing. But it is worth noting that strong shipments were driven by devices launched pre-US ban, and the long-term outlook is still dim,” she added.
The company said it has shipped 185 million smartphones so far this year. Based on the company’s previous statements and estimates from market research firm Strategy Analytics, that indicates a 29% surge in third-quarter smartphone shipments.
Still, growth in the third quarter slowed from the 39% increase the company reported in the first quarter. Huawei did not break out figures for the second quarter either, but has said revenue rose 23.2% in the first half of the year.
“Our continued strong performance in Q3 shows our customers’ trust in Huawei, our technology and services, despite the actions and unfounded allegations against us by some national governments,” Huawei spokesman Joe Kelly told Reuters.
The US government alleges Huawei is a national security risk as its equipment could be used by Beijing to spy. Huawei has repeatedly denied its products pose a security threat.
The company, which is now trying to reduce its reliance on foreign technology, said last month that it has started making 5G base stations without US components.
It is also developing its own mobile operating system as the curbs cut its access to Google’s Android operating system, though analysts are skeptical that Huawei’s Harmony system is yet a viable alternative.
Still, promotions and patriotic purchases have driven Huawei’s smartphone sales in China — surging by a nearly a third compared to a record high in the June quarter — helping it more than offset a shipments slump in the global market.