10m Brits Could Bring a Privacy Claim Against Google

Google is facing a legal battle in the UK after it allegedly exploited a weakness in Apple’s Safari browser software to track the internet usage of iPhone, iPad and Mac owners.

Every web browser, apart from Opera Mini and Google’s native browser on Android, offers the option to switch on third-party cookie blocking. Apple’s browser automatically blocks these on all of its devices as standard to prevent advertisers from gathering and selling information about web activity.

The Guardian estimates that 10m people may be able to bring a privacy claim against the internet giant after allegedly having their browsing history tracked across different web pages via Google ads. At least 10 British iPhone users, it said, have already started legal proceedings. Google paid a record $22.5m (£14.3m) fine to the Federal Trade Commission last year for a similar breach in the US.

“What we have seen is a bit of culture clash. Engineers saw the cookie problem as something they needed to work around to get their job done. But they probably proved they dont have much of a moral compass, as the intent of the setting was cleary to protect people’s privacy,” said Wes Biggs, CTO of Adfonic. “Sophisticated digital advertisers are used to the cookie economy, with much of their infrastructure built around it. It was almost inevitable that companies would find a work around to make mobile fit into their cookie mould.

“Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers, which is used in their apps, is actually more helpful to consumers and advertisers, as it’s clear that permission has to be sought to do what you want. It simplifies things, giving consumers the opportunity to provide a real signal – do not track me. A similar feature would be great for the browser.”

While Googles approach is still being scrutinised in the UK, its has launched its own campaign to get legislators in the US to tighten p