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Google accused of “illegal” tracking by group seeking £750 payout for UK iPhone users

Google has been taken to court for allegedly covertly tracking millions of iPhone users in the UK, and collecting their personal details.

The search giant is being sued by a collective calling itself “Google You Owe Us”, which is being led by former Which? director Richard Lloyd.

Related: Internet security privacy guide

The campaign group is seeking compensation from Google, over claims that the firm gathered the details of 4.4 million iPhone users through “clandestine tracking”, The Guardian reports.

These details allegedly included iPhone users’ race, political leanings, sexuality, health information, social class, financial, shopping habits and location data, and Google You Owe Us claims that Google was able to use this information in order to divide users into categories for targeted advertising.

Furthermore, it argues that the company managed to collect this data by exploiting the “Safari Workaround”, a loophole that allegedly allowed Google to evade the Safari browser’s block on third-party tracking via cookies.

Google You Owe Us is hoping to squeeze at least £1 million out of Google, but court filings show it is looking for a payout of up to £3.2 billion − which would amount to £750 per iPhone user. The allegations date back to the period of time between August 2011 and February 2012.

Google, for its part, believes the case should be dismissed, and says it isn’t possible to identify individual users from the data, and that none of it was passed on to third-party companies.

“The privacy and security of our users is extremely important to us. This case relates to events that took place over six years ago and that we addressed at the time,” said Tom Price, the communications director for Google UK.

“We believe it has no merit and should be dismissed. We’ve filed evidence in support of that view and look forward to making our case in Court.”

You can find out more information about the claim here.

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