British Court Says Google Can Be Sued for Tracking Safari Users

The Internet company has to abide by local laws, judge says

Today, The British High Court has decided that local data protection laws should apply to Google, despite the company’s claim that the country had no jurisdiction over it. The Internet giant intends to appeal the ruling.

For the better part of last year, Apple users in the United Kingdom battled Google in court for recording their browser habits on Safari without permission.

According to them, between September 2012 and February 2013, Google bypassed the security settings set in place in Safari and planted a temporary cookie that collected information from users. The data was used to personalize ads. This is allegedly in violation of British data laws.

According to The Register, Google believes there’s no merit in the case and plans to appeal the decision. “A case almost identical to this one was dismissed in its entirety three months ago in the US. We still don’t think that this case meets the standards required in the UK for it to go to trial, and we’ll be appealing today’s ruling,” Google said.

The British authorities, however, believe that as long as Google operates in the United Kingdom, it should respect privacy rules inside the country.

“Google is very much here in the UK. It has a UK specific site. It has staff here. It sells adverts here. It makes money here. It is ludicrous for it to claim that, despite all of this very commercial activity, it won’t answer to our courts,” said Judith Vidal-Hall, one of the claimants, several weeks ago.

In the case mentioned by Google, the company was forced to pay a fine of $22.5 million (€16.35 million) to the US Federal Trade Commission for violating its order that the company would not misrepresent the extent to which consumers could exercise control over the collection of their information.

It was also revealed that while the company didn’t plead guilty in the FTC case, claiming the tracking was accidental, Google agreed to pay another $17 million (€12.36) to settle charges.

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