Google is trying to argue UK privacy laws aren’t applicable to its actions because it is an American company.
Currently facing a huge group legal action by UK consumers who were victims of its iPhone hacking scheme, Google is arguing that its American roots mean it cannot be prosecuted under British privacy law.
This was done using specially designed software to bypass Apple’s settings that automatically block companies from installing any cookies on their devices.
Google has already been fined a record breaking $22.5 million (£14.4 million) by American authorities for the same offence, but is saying UK courts have “no jurisdiction” over their actions.
As an American company based in Silicon Valley, Google believes it cannot be fined under UK privacy laws and has submitted a statement to the High Court explaining such arguments.
It suggests that as the consumer services come from Google Inc rather than Google UK, it may be able to bypass any fines or punishments under UK law.
Unsurprisingly, claimants fighting Google say the search engine giant and its policies “don’t respect” UK law and suggest its ideas on privacy are aligned with its avoidance of paying appropriate UK tax.
“It seems absurd to suggest that consumers can’t bring a claim against a company which is operating in the UK and is even constructing a $1 billion headquarters in London”, said claimant Marc Bradshaw.
Britain’s independent freedom of information and data protection watchdog, the Information Commissioner's Office, would only be able to impose a maximum fine of £500,000. Such a figure would be completely ineffective against Google, as it would only equate to less than 0.002 per cent of the company’s annual turnover.
“What are they suggesting – that they will force Apple users whose privacy was violated to pay to travel to California to take action when they offer a service in this country on a .co.uk site?” added Judith Vidal-Hall, another claimant.
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