LONDON, Dec. 15, 2013 /CNW/ - The fight to ensure Google cannot evade
British justice goes before the English High Court on Monday, when a
group of British internet users take action against the internet giant.
The claimants argue that Google breached their privacy in England and
should be held to account here too.
In their claim, filed in London, the group of claimants, known as Safari
Users Against Google's Secret Tracking, have accused Google of
bypassing security settings on the Safari internet browser in order to
track their online browsing and to target them with personalised
advertisements. But Google has said that the claim should have been
brought in the United States, where it is based, and will argue against
it being heard in England at a jurisdiction hearing on Monday.
Judith Vidal-Hall, one of the claimants argues that Google should answer
to British justice. "Google is very much here in the UK. It has a UK
specific site. It has staff here. It sells adverts here. It makes
money here. It is ludicrous for it to claim that, despite all of this
very commercial activity, it won't answer to our courts. If consumers
are based in the UK and English laws are abused, the perpetrator must
be held to account here, not in a jurisdiction that might suit them
better. Google's preference that British consumers should travel all
the way to California to seek redress for its wrongdoings is arrogant,
immoral and a disgrace. We will fight this attempt to dismiss the case
Google was sued for the same privacy breach in the United States in
August last year, and had to pay a fine of $22.5 million to the US
Federal Trade Commission for violating its order that the company would
not misrepresent "the extent to which consumers can exercise control
over the collection of their information." Google did not admit to
wrongdoing in the FTC case, but said the tracking was accidental.
Despite this, the Attorney General of New York announced last month
that the company had agreed to pay $17 million to settle charges that
it secretly tracked some consumers' activities on the Web, even after
promising such tracking had been blocked.
Across Europe, data regulators are considering steps to reign in
Google's continued gathering and use of private data, but so far Google
has not be held to account in Europe for its breach of users'
privacy. Olswang's Dan Tench represents the claimants:
"British users have a right to privacy protected by English and European
laws. Google may weave complex legal arguments about why the case
should not be heard here, but it has a legal and moral duty to users on
this side of the Atlantic not to abuse their wishes. Google must be
held to account here, even though it would prefer to ignore England."
The case is listed at Court 14 of the High Court on Monday, December 16,
at 10.30 am.
Campaigners from the Google Governance Campaign group will be outside
the High Court, London, at 09.30 on Monday handing out cookies and
calling on Google to "let its tracking cookies crumble'.
Notes to Editors
The Google Governance Campaign has been set up by campaigners associated
with the Safari Users Against Google's Secret Tracking group. Its
mission is to campaign for better corporate behaviour by Google in the
UK, respecting Britons' right to privacy and Britain's right to
taxation on any profits generated in the country.
SOURCE: Google Governance Campaign
For further information:
Jonathan Hawker +44 7979 907 000; Ross Hall, +44 7738 198 935