Google’s request not to be sued by British web users over privacy violations was dismissed by the UK’s Court of Appeal today, the BBC reports.
The case stems from an incident which occurred during a nine month span between 2011 and 2012 where Google collected data on all Safari users, including those who opted out of having their information tracked.
There’s incentive for Google to install cookies on users computers, because they can be used to track browsing history. With that information Google can deliver more personalized advertisements and generate greater ad revenue.
Due to the personal nature of the information collected by installing cookies, its a privacy violation to install them on the computers of users who have opted out.
Google’s argument was that, since no financial hardship was incurred by the users whose information was tracked, the company had done nothing wrong. The UK’s Court of Appeal disagreed:
“These claims raise serious issues which merit a trial. They concern what is alleged to have been the secret and blanket tracking and collation of information, often of an extremely private nature […] about and associated with the claimants’ Internet use, and the subsequent use of that information for about nine months. The case relates to the anxiety and distress this intrusion upon autonomy has caused.”
As a result of this ruling, Google is now open to be sued by UK web users who accessed the internet through Safari on either Macs, iPhones and iPads during the nine-month period.
Some are quoted in the BBC’s report calling this a “David and Goliath victory”, while other groups are applauding the court’s decision.
Google has not officially commented on the ruling, but the BBC reports the search giant is “disappointed” with the decision.