August 18, 2013
Google has told British consumers taking legal action against it for privacy breaches that it does not have to answer to the English courts and that UK privacy laws don’t apply.
Legal documents filed by the company in response to a claim by three people backed by the campaign group, Safari Users Against Google’s Secret Tracking, show that Google will contest the right of Safari users in the UK to bring a case in the country they live in and where they use Google’s service.
The search giant has dismissed the Safari claims as not serious, saying that the browsing habits of internet users are not protected as personal information, even when they potentially concern their physical health or sexuality.
, one of the claimants, is appalled by this:
“Google’s position on the law is the same as its position on tax: they will only play or pay on their home turf. What are they suggesting- that they will force Apple users whose privacy was violated to pay to travel to
to take action when they offer a service in this country on a .co.uk site? This matches their attitude to consumer privacy. They don’t respect it and they don’t consider themselves to be answerable to our laws on it.”
Google refused to accept service of the lawsuit in the UK, instead forcing the victims to serve on the company in California. Their claim is based on Google’s admission that tracking cookies were installed on the computers and mobile devices of people using Apple’s Safari internet browser even when they had expressly chosen to block them. These cookies allowed Google to secretly track the browsing activities of millions of Safari users, without their knowledge, and to collate and use that data.