back to article Used iPhone Safari in 2011-12? You might qualify for Google bucks

Consumer rights advocates have launched a class action lawsuit against Google, claiming the biz took millions of iPhone users' personal information illegally. The campaign, dubbed Google You Owe Us, is led by former Which? executive director Richard Lloyd. It focuses on the revelation that, in 2011 and 2012, Google bypassed …

  1. Red Ted

    Just iPhones?

    or would this include any of the iOS Safari devices such as iPod Touch and iPad?

    1. Random Handle

      Re: Just iPhones?

      They're looking into iPad as well, future case maybe, but it's iPhone users only currently (according to Money Saving Expert - Martin Lewis has some involvement as advisor).

    2. Baldrickk

      Re: Just iPhones?

      I was using my iPod Touch at the time, same browser, same OS, so I assume the same problem.

      Would kinda like to know.

      1. FlippingGerman

        Re: Just iPhones?

        Same applies to me (I miss my old iPod 4, lost it two years ago, life has never been the same since). I can't see a special case being brought just for the few iPod users though.

        1. enormous c word

          Re: Just iPhones?

          if they're successful with iPhone, then the precedent has been set - broadening to other devices that may have been affected would be simple.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But the group stressed that the case goes "beyond financial motivations" as it will "make an example of one of the world's biggest companies"

    ... so does the "beyond financial motivations" apply to the costs that these advocates will extract from any payout from Google?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      For those of us who can read and don't hide our ID trying to make out we have some super secret and can never reveal ourselves...

      The article states that the payout for the charges they are going after Google with is less than £1000 per person. This is not going to cause Google any financial distress, nor make anyone any money. This is purely to make an example of Google, hence 'beyond financial motivations'.

      As regards the article, Apple only sold 200million units worldwide in that time, so I doubt there were a huge number of people in the UK affected.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Less than £1000 per person" sure would cause Google financial distress, if they collected on near that amount for 5.4 million UK users. Sure, they can absorb that loss globally, but it would eat up all the UK profit they've ever made and ever will make for years (even their real profit, not the much lower profit they claim on UK taxes) If such suits were successful throughout the EU that amount could quickly ratchet up to where it would really hurt.

        Of course I'm guessing that by "less than £1000 per person" they mean "around £10 per person" which would be typical of a US class action lawsuit. If so, Google would probably spend more on lawyers to fight it off than it would cost them if they lose.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nobody caring that iOS didn't enforce this setting?

    LOL, apple protection crew out in force again.

    1. ThomH

      Re: Nobody caring that iOS didn't enforce this setting?

      Google found and actively exploited a dishonest representation designed explicitly to circumvent what was then Apple's implementation of user privacy. Apple, like every other browser maker, attempts to use various heuristics to increase privacy without breaking web standards — in this case Safari was making a judgement about which cookies to admit to having based on the combination of domain and content being served, so Google started providing fake content in order to be able to track the user. Its HTML was custom crafted to look like one thing to the browser while looking like another thing to the user.

      That's why for most of us it is substantially less concerning that Apple's attempt to provide additional security above and beyond web standards was flawed, than it is that Google methodically and deliberately decided to find a way to override the user's stated desire for attempted privacy, in order to earn itself extra money.

      1. JLV

        Re: Nobody caring that iOS didn't enforce this setting?

        This is, while still incomplete, a much better explanation of the original breach of trust than what's in the article.

        Which frankly was lightweight for this audience and asked us to take Google's heinousity (not a word, I know) at its word.

      2. Mi Tasol

        Re: Nobody caring that iOS didn't enforce this setting?

        In other words Google did a Volkswagen. They knew it was wrong but did it anyway. So much for their famous motto "do no evil". Obviously to Google anything that makes them money is good and morals, conscience, etc are evil.

        Just like today's story about how they are going to over-ride windows antivirus tools.

        Another reason I am glad that I went back to Firefox and use Duck Duck Go for searches.

    2. Nexus1974

      No Google using coding techniques to get around it

      The settings were in place but Google used techniques to get around it, hence the breach of Data Protection Laws in UK.

      Google have always been a bit of a shady company, cant provide "free" products and be a £B company. They sell as much of you as they can to make more money.

  4. monty75

    How is anyone supposed to remember, let alone prove, what their browser settings were six years ago?

    1. Valerion

      Just ask Google...

      1. Random Handle

        >Just ask Google...

        Actually you can - just get a 'takeout' using Google's (not) well publicised 'Download Your Data' feature.

        1. Mark Simon

          Nice tip. I don’t use Google voluntarily for anything, and it’s unnerving to see what they have collected.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It was set to block by default. So you would of needed to go in and change the setting. Which of course most would.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You would HAVE...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You probably don't need to, I've never owned an iPhone but I'm pretty sure I used a friends iPhone Safari between those dates.

  5. Spanners Silver badge


    I trust Apple far less than I trust Google and consider any of their "privacy" settings to be legal box ticking.

    I have an iPhone from work and as well as finding it unintuitive in comparison to my own Android, I do not use it for sensitive personal information.

    Yes Google is in it for money too. They just seem less rabid about it.

    1. ThomH

      Re: Actually

      You're living in a backwards world if you've decided that the company that makes money by tracking and categorising people in order to show them appropriate adverts is a better privacy bet than the one that makes money by selling physical hardware that it in part advertises through PR attacks on its competitor's lack of concern for privacy.

    2. DailyLlama

      Re: Actually

      "Yes Google is in it for money too."

      Yes, that's how businesses work. If they weren't in it for the money, there wouldn't be any businesses, and no-one would have a job.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Actually

      Apparently Apple hatred can be so strong it overwhelms brain function in some people, to the point where they trust Google with their privacy more than Apple. I'm not sure I'd trust Google with privacy more than ANYONE, except perhaps Uber and Equifax.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    ...what about the Do Not Track setting they ignore?

    1. DailyLlama

      Re: So...

      Never mind that, where's the "Don't show me any advertising at all ever" function that's is sadly missing from every device I've ever owned?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So...

        It's called airplane mode.

        1. returnmyjedi

          Re: So...

          Airplane mode on recent iOS won't really help you in that respect.

          1. Tessier-Ashpool

            Re: So...

            You're thinking of the 'disconnect wifi' widget, which is a temporary affair. Airplane Mode is a different kettle of fish.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why bother ?

    UK law is notoriously parsimonious when it comes to damages for the little man.

    Anyone hoping for a payout needs to show they have suffered a material loss. If you want megabucks, you need a US court that can impose punitive damages.

    While I'm here, what did people do with the VAT refund from HMRC for the illegal VAT charged on Jaffa Cakes ? What's that ? HRMC never had to refund it ? Wow. What a surprise.

    1. Aitor 1

      Re: Why bother ?

      But the loss is clear.

      Now you will receive a call from "London" that tells you that you had and accident, were missold PPI or had an Iphone.. so more junk calls.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        re: more junk calls

        Except to UK courts any time you spend answering such calls is free. Your time costs nothing and is worth nothing.

        I learned that very early, after having to spend a weekend putting some damage right, and having a court tell me that I couldn't charge for my time.

  8. Hans 1

    *You can claim if, at any time between June 1, 2011 and February 15, 2012 you: had an Apple ID, lawfully owned an iPhone, used Safari to get online, kept the default browser security settings and did not opt out of tracking and collation via Google's ad preference manager. Oh, and you also have to have been resident in England or Wales on May 31, 2017.

    any time between June 1, 2011 and February 15, 2012 and Oh, and you also have to have been resident in England or Wales on May 31, 2017.

    Oh, come on, you probably missed the "And your 3rd cousin-on-your-mother's side's left-hand neighbour's best mate's toilet paper must have ran out between 2 and 3 PM on June the 12th 1998." ? Seriously, your data has been snatched by Google illegally between those two dates in England/Wales (as above, apple id and visited any google^H^H^H^H^H^Halphabet-owned site), does not matter where you are now, yesterday or last week, if you used an iPhone as said in England Wales between those two dates you were wronged whilst in England or Wales, you should be eligible ... like, your car got stolen on Jan 13th and found again on Jan 27th, damaged, however, since you were not lawful resident of England or Wales on 28th June you cannot get compensation ... WTF ?

    English legal system ... alacarte!

  9. sjsmoto

    "In all my years speaking up for consumers, I've rarely seen such a massive abuse of trust where so many people have no way to seek redress on their own," said Lloyd.

    I guess he's never heard of Uber?

    1. Hans 1

      I guess he's never heard of Uber?

      or Facebook, or Microsoft, for that matter.


  10. Ryan Kendall

    why not sue Apple

    But Apple track you anyway so I don't really see this as anything but a lawyer cash grab.

    If it wasn't for the financial reward I don't think any ios use would be bothered.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: why not sue Apple

      Any tracking that Apple do is never sold on to 3rd parties. (their policy is on their website)[1]

      Whereas that is just what google does to make money.

      [1] If you think that Apple is breaking the law and/or their published policy please feel free to file a lawsuit.

      IMHO, they are by far the lesser of two evils. Google as we know it today is pure evil.

      1. PeterGriffin

        Re: why not sue Apple

        Either company could sell targeted advertising without divulging the data upon which they based their targeting i.e. your tracking data. Even if it's their own products. Just because they don't sell the data doesn't mean they aren't up to exactly the same schemes and behaviour.

        No one is blameless. People got fed up beating on Microsoft so it's Google's turn. Apple are absolute rotters for their tax schemes and their rapacious greed is to quickly forgotten.

  11. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge


    Only by providing a name and address. These data grabbers are everywhere!

  12. Joseph Haig

    Just wondering

    Is that about the same time they stopped using the "Don't be Evil" slogan?

  13. Hubert Thrunge Jr.

    Where there's a blame, there's a claim.

    So, in the unlikely event of this case actually being successful, what are you going to do with your payout Mr Compoclaimant? Buy a bottle of water from the vending machine in the foyer? Nope, you don't have enough...

    I can see the queues to sign up for this being.... not long at all.

    Total waste of judiciary time, and just another "Lawyers Get Rich Quick" scheme, even if Google were in the wrong. Horse, door, bolted. Or are you still looking for Shergar?

  14. Pat Harkin

    I can show (via seller) that my family had iPhones but...

    how can I show they "kept the default browser security settings and did not opt out of tracking and collation via Google's ad preference manager"?

  15. rmason


    Interesting because I'm the name on the account for a business contract of several hundred iPhones.

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