The top 10 questions about our campaign are below. Use the filters and search bar if you cannot find your answer here.
1. What is our claim about?
We believe that between 1 June 2011 and 15 February 2012, Google took millions of iPhone users’ internet browsing data illegally. We believe Google took our data by bypassing default privacy settings on the iPhone Safari browser which existed to protect our data, allowing it to collect browsing data without our consent. This was referred to in court proceedings as “the Safari Workaround”. We believe that it was against the law and was wrong.
We are taking Google to court for its actions, because we believe that Google owes us trust, fairness and money. We want to make sure that Google face the consequences for breaching both our trust and the law. If successful, those affected by Google’s actions and who qualify will get the compensation they are owed. You will be able to sign up to receive this once the case has been won.
This claim covers residents of England and Wales between 2011-2012, who meet the qualifying criteria in Q4, of the Top 10 questions.
2. What happened?
In the simplest terms, we believe that Google made money from unlawfully collecting and using our personal data.
The default privacy settings on Safari, Apple’s web browser, meant it did not accept third party cookies on to your phone. Read more about cookies.
However, Google placed a piece of computer code onto your phone that bypassed Safari’s default privacy settings and set a Google third party cookie on to your iPhone. This allowed Google to track your browsing data when it wouldn’t have otherwise have been able to and, in doing so, collect your personal data without asking permission. This has since become known as the “Safari Workaround”.
Our personal data is how Google makes money. The “Safari Workaround” meant that Google knew which webpages we visited, and how often. Google used this data to sell a service to its advertising network called the “DoubleClick Service”. Using browsing data the DoubleClick Service enables advertisers to target and tailor adverts according to the iPhone user’s preferences. The “DoubleClick Service” generates an enormous amount of money for Google.
3. What is happening now?
In July 2017, Google was formally notified of our claim.
The claim is brought on behalf of all qualifying iPhone users who were affected by the “Safari Workaround”. If you were affected but do not wish to be part of the claim, then please click.
We are now working on building our case on behalf of those affected by the scheme.
When the case goes to court, Richard Lloyd will act as the representative. You can find out more about him here.
For the latest on the claim, its progress and any related news, please visit the “Our Progress” section of this website.
4. Who is Richard Lloyd going to court on behalf of?
Richard Lloyd (the class representative) is taking Google to court on behalf of the claimant class.
This consists of individuals who meet the criteria below:
a) Were you at any time between 1 June 2011 and 15 February 2012 present in England and Wales and whilst present:
i) Did you have an Apple ID?
ii) Did you own or were you in lawful possession of an iPhone?
iii) Did you use the Safari browser to access the internet?
iv) Did you keep the default security settings in the Safari browser?
v) Did you not opt-out of tracking and collation via Google’s “Ads preference Manager”?
b) Were you resident in England and Wales on 31 May 2017?
If the case is successful, members of the claimant class will be asked to register in order to receive money they are owed.
5. I qualify as a class member – what do I have to do?
You do not need to do anything at this stage. The case is being led by the lawyers and Richard Lloyd.
You are automatically included in the class if you meet the criteria in Q4 of the Top 10 questions.
If the case is successful, you will be asked to provide us with proof that you qualify to receive money under the claim. For example, proof that you had an Apple ID and were an iPhone user between 1 June 2011 and 15 February 2012.
For now, though, we want to raise awareness of Google’s actions and spread the word about our claim. Share the claim on social media, tell your friends and family and help us right this wrong.
If you were affected but do not wish to be part of the claim, then please click.
6. How much money will I receive, when and how?
If you owned an iPhone between 1 June 2011 and 15 February 2012 and can answer yes to the criteria in Q4, of the Top 10 questions, you qualify as a class member in our representative action. If our claim is successful, the amount Google owes will be assessed by the Court.
Beyond financial motivations, this case will make an example of one of the world’s biggest companies, and show them that they need to follow the rules like everyone else.
7. What will it cost me?
Legal proceedings are notoriously expensive and you may be wondering who is paying for the representative action against Google. There will be no cost to you for being a member of our representative action.
The claim is entirely funded by an investor, known as a ‘third party funder’. A third party funder is a specialist funding company which agrees to pay the costs of bringing a legal action in return for a share of any damages awarded. This means that the claimants bear none of the costs of bringing the claim. If the claim is unsuccessful, the third party funder loses their investment. In the UK, the loser of a case has to pay a proportion of the other side’s legal costs. Usually, the third party funder will have taken out insurance, called After the Event Insurance or ATE, to cover this possibility so that the insurer pays the winning side’s costs.
The ‘loser pays’ rule coupled with the burden of their own legal costs, can mean bringing a claim can be prohibitively expensive for an individual potential claimant, particularly when up against a larger, well-funded defendant, such as Google. Third-party funding allows less well-resourced claimants to level the playing field. It is common in representative actions because it provides a route for members of a class to fund their claim and to participate together, thereby giving them access to justice and legal expertise.
In this action against Google, Mr Lloyd has engaged Therium Litigation Funding IC to fund all of the costs of the claim and to arrange ATE Insurance. Therium will take a fee from the money awarded if we are successful and, after that fee has been paid, the damages awarded by the court will be distributed to those who are covered by the claim.
Therium has a long track record of success in providing funding for representative actions, delivering favourable results to groups of individuals who would not otherwise be able to bring a claim. Therium is a founder member and board member of the Association of Litigation Funders of England and Wales and complies with that organisation’s Code of Conduct.
8. Why does this matter?
We are taking Google to court because we believe that Google’s actions were unlawful and we want to hold Google to account. You will be helping to show large companies that they need to follow the rules like anyone else.
If the claim is successful, you will also get the compensation Google owes you for taking your personal data without your permission.
9. If this happened in 2011, why is the claim only being brought now?
A claim has already been brought in the English High Court, on a much smaller scale than this one. In 2015, three individuals brought a claim against Google claiming their privacy rights had been breached by Google using the Safari Workaround. That case, Vidal Hall v Google, settled on confidential terms, but the Court found that the claim raised serious issues which merited a full trial. That case opened the door to holding Google to account by bringing an action on behalf of the millions of iPhone users affected by Google’s actions and claim the compensation they may be owed.
10. For one reason or another, I do not want to be part of the claim, what should I do?
If you meet the criteria in Q4 of our Top 10 FAQs you are automatically considered a part of the claim. To receive the money you are owed, however, you will still need to sign up. If our claim is successful you will be asked to formally sign up.
If you do not wish to be a part of the claim for any reason you can choose not to participate. This removes you from the claim and eliminates any eligibility to benefit from any payments.
Should you wish not to participate, please. You will be redirected to a web form which will require you to click to accept the following: “I do not want to participate in the collective action against Google Case No. HQ17M01913.” You will also have to enter your name and email address. Once this process has been completed you will receive an email confirmation.
You do not need to give a reason.
One reason you may have for not wishing to participate is if you wish to claim more money from Google because you have suffered more harm. This action only seeks compensation for the infringement of your data protection rights and the loss of control of your data. Damages for these breaches will likely be under £1,000. In certain circumstances, Google’s actions may also constitute a ‘misuse of private information’. Claims for misuse of private information could result in awards above £1,000.
Google’s ‘Safari Workaround’ has been known to cause ads to pop up on devices that cause actual harm, embarrassment or loss. For example, ads for holiday destinations that spoil a surprise trip for a loved one or ads for medical treatment that reveal a suspected illness. If, as a result of Google tracking your browser activity in 2011 – 2012, ads popped up on your device which revealed anything to do with your health, sexuality, children, financial circumstances or employment you may have a claim for misuse of private information in addition to a data protection claim.
Such claims are not covered by our collective action. If you think you might have a claim for misuse of private information, you should consult an independent solicitor familiar with such claims in order to evaluate whether to not participate in our action.