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UK: Google faces $4 billion case over claims of secret iPhone tracking

A "loophole" Google allegedly used is being investigated.

Google is facing a £3 billion (approximately $4.16 billion) class action lawsuit at the UK Supreme Court over accusations that it secretly tracked the internet activity of millions of iPhone users. The tech giant was fined by the FTC for the same behavior, back in 2012.

The suit was filed by Richard Lloyd, the former director of the consumer advocacy group Which?, on behalf of over 4.4 million people in England and Wales. His complaint was finally successful following a petition that lasted years due to rejection at lower courts.

Ahead of the Wednesday hearing, where Google attempted to block the suit, Lloyd said: “Global technology companies are not above the law — no matter where they are. It is their legal duty to use our data appropriately and to keep it safe.”

Lloyd accuses Google of illegally misusing the data of millions of iPhone users through the “Safari workaround,” beginning August 2011 to February 2012. The loophole allowed Google to track users’ internet activity without their permission, which is illegal under the UK’s data protection laws.

Google insists that it did not share the data with third parties, and, per the applicable data protection legislation, it did not cause any harm to those who were affected.

“These claims relate to events that took place a decade ago and that we addressed at the time. We look forward to making our case in court,” a spokesperson for the tech giant said.

In a similar case in the US, involving the “Safari workaround,” Google was forced to pay the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) a $22.5 million fine. The fine pales in comparison with the amount the company will pay if Lloyd’s suit is successful.

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