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.


Germany mulls how to attract skilled labor from outside EU

Updated 16 December 2019

Germany mulls how to attract skilled labor from outside EU

  • The new legislation will take effect March 1
  • German official said shortage of skilled workers is currently biggest risk to business

BERLIN: Chancellor Angela Merkel is meeting top German business and union officials on Monday to discuss how to attract skilled workers from outside the European Union as the country tries to tackle a shortfall of qualified labor.
Legislation is due to take effect March 1 making it easier for non-EU nationals to get visas to work and seek jobs in Germany. Arrangements currently applied to university graduates are being expanded to immigrants with professional qualifications and German language knowledge.
“Many companies in Germany are urgently seeking skilled workers, even in times of a weaker economy,” Eric Schweitzer, the head of the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry, told the Funke newspaper group. “For more than half of companies, the shortage of skilled workers is currently the biggest risk to business.”
He called for “unbureaucratic and effective implementation” of the new legislation.
Sectors including information technology and nursing have complained of a shortage of workers.
Monday’s meeting will discuss which countries German business wants to focus on “and we will cut out the bureaucratic hurdles,” Labor Minister Hubertus Heil told RBB Inforadio. He named as examples the process of recognizing professional qualifications, language ability and visa procedures.
Like many other European countries, Germany is trying to strike a balance between the needs of its labor market, an aging native population and concern about immigration.
Heil said that the aim isn’t to undercut German wages and “our problem at the moment is rather that we are not being overrun, that we are not getting qualified workers.”