Google and ‘Google, You Owe Us’ begin $4.3 billion court battle

A campaign group in the United Kingdom is pressing forward with a lawsuit claiming Google owes a payout to everyone who used an iPhone between 2011 and 2012, because of Google’s data gathering techniques on the Apple browser Safari. The group, “Google, You Owe Us,” accuses the technology giant of bypassing security restrictions on the Safari browser on iPhone devices to gather personal data, while insisting to users that it was not able to do so. The group claims that this bypass, known as the “Safari Workaround,” was used to sell personal data from 4.4 million iPhone users in the U.K.

And this privacy case threatens to cost Google a whopping $4.3 billion should the tech firm lose.

This week, a U.K. court heard arguments from both Google, You Owe Us and Google, and documents show that British iPhone users could receive up to $1,000 each if Google loses. On Monday, Google pushed for the case to be dismissed entirely, noting that there’s no way to check to see if users were actually affected by the Safari Workaround.

“The privacy and security of our users are extremely important to us,” Tom Price, Google UK’s communications director, said in a statement. “This case relates to events that took place over six years ago and that we addressed at the time. We believe it has no merit and should be dismissed.”

Google You Owe Us lawsuit

Google denies the claims, holding that the breach was not serious enough to break each users’ human rights (and that it should have originally been tried in California). Richard Lloyd, former director of product-review company Which, is representing the iPhone users, and told BBC Radio 4’s Today program in 2017 that “Google and similar tech giants from Silicon Valley are behaving as if they are above the law.” He beseeched the courts to let him hold Google to account for what he termed a deception. Legal firm Mishcon de Reya has agreed to represent the group at court, agreeing that data is a “valuable new currency,” consumer rights need to be upheld, and new systems to police them should be established.

This is hardly the first time that one of Silicon Valley’s tech giants has been sued over the misuse of data. In 2011, Apple was sued for tracking U.S. iPhone users without permission, after the iOS 4 update enabled location tracking in the background. This particular case against Google dates back to 2015, after the same campaign group won the right to sue Google over this particular breach of privacy.

Issues with the Safari Workaround date back even further; Google settled out of court with U.S. state attorneys for $17 million in November 2013, and paid a $22.5 million fine to the Federal Trade Commission in August 2012 after the FTC decided that Google had misrepresented its stance on tracking to Safari users.

This case is thought to be the first of its kind in the U.K., and may come to a dramatic conclusion in the coming weeks. Already, the amount of money in question has increased substantially; initially, the payout was expected in the $1.4 billion range. We will update this post with more information as it becomes available.

Updated on May 22: Google goes to court in the U.K. over privacy issue and could lose up to $4.3 billion. 

Mobile

Google Play rewards system arrives in Japan, no sign of U.S. release yet

After some rumors, Google has finally revealed the existence of Google Play Points. But for now, it's only available in Japan, and there's no indication of when a U.S. or worldwide release is planned.
Smart Home

OK, Google, what can you do? Tips and tricks for the Google Home

The Home functions in a similar fashion to its main competitor, the Amazon Echo, but has the added benefit of select Google services. Here are few tips to help you make the most of the newfangled device.
Computing

A.I.-powered Grammarly comes to Google Docs to improve your writing

Google Docs is getting another artificial-powered grammar checking tool to help improve your writing. Grammarly announced that it is bringing its service as a Chrome browser extension, competing against Google's native tool.
Computing

Privacy-focused browser Brave sues Google, claims breach of Europe’s GDPR rules

Brave filed a GDPR complaint on Wednesday against Google for violating privacy protection in the EU. Brave alleges that GDPR prohibits Google from sharing browsing data about its users with its advertisers in its complaint.
Mobile

The Google Pixel 3 smartphone may arrive dressed in pink

Forget the Pixel 2: Google will announce its latest flagships, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, on October 9 in New York City and Paris. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.
Wearables

WatchOS 5 is now available -- here's everything we know so far

Months after Apple announced its latest software at WWDC, you can now download WatchOS for the Apple Watch. WatchOS 5 brings a number of new features including new watch faces and improved health tracking.
Product Review

The Suunto 9 multisport watch has the stamina to outlast even you

The Suunto 9 offers an astounding 120 hours of continuous tracking thanks to its intelligent battery modes and FusedTrack "GPS without GPS" tracking. We put the Suunto 9 through its paces to find out how well these features work.
Business

Report: President Trump to spare Apple from tariffs on Chinese goods

According to a new report, Apple and other tech firms may be spared from the Trump administration's upcoming tariffs on Chinese goods. While devices like the Apple Watch were on a preliminary list, they have reportedly been removed.
Photography

Instagram’s shopping stickers for businesses see wide rollout

As the Stories format continues to grow, Instagram is allowing users to shop the items inside a Stories photo or video. Instagram recently expanded stickers that let people shop inside a Story by tapping on the sticker.
Business

Will your carry-on fit in that overhead bin? Kayak’s new AR tool can tell you

Don't break out the tape measure just yet -- a new augmented reality tool inside the Kayak app can help determine if your bag meets carry-on requirements. After measuring the bag, the app compares it to your airline's requirements.
Social Media

A lot less clutter! Twitter relaunches purely chronological timeline

If you still miss the reverse-chronological timeline that Twitter ditched two years ago and you're fed up with all of the extra algorithmic tweets appearing in your feed, there's now a way to return it to how it used to be.
Mobile

Withings reclaims its brand with the new Steel HR Sport hybrid watch

After repurchasing itself from Nokia, Withings is back with the new Steel HR Sport fitness tracker. The hybrid sports watch may look familiar, but any resemblances to Nokia's Steel HR are only skin-deep.
Apple

Overheating problems may force Apple to extinguish the AirPower charger

At its September event last year, Apple unveiled the AirPower -- its new wireless charging mat that will allow you to charge multiple devices at one time. It has not yer been released. Here's everything we know about the device so far.
Mobile

Google’s Family Link expands globally, now works on more devices

Google's Family Link app makes it easier for parents to keep track of their kids' smartphone usage. They can restrict them from downloading apps, see which services they use the most, and more. Here's everything you need to know.