Google loses High Court bid to have Apple Safari snooping case heard in US

Court case

Google has lost a High Court bid to stop legal action being taken against it in the UK by a group of Apple users, but is planning to appeal the ruling.

The search giant is being sued by a group of internet users for allegedly circumnavigating Apple's security controls and privacy settings to monitor their web habits using the Safari browser. It is claimed this was to deliver user-targeted advertising.

We still don't think this case meets the standards required in the UK for it to go to trial, and we'll be appealing today's ruling.

The internet search giant previously claimed it has no case to answer in the UK, and applied to have the case heard in California in December.

However, a High Court ruling today confirmed the case does fall under the jurisdiction of the UK court, meaning the claims can be tried over here.

The High Court stated: "There is a serious issue to be tried in each of the Claimant's claims for misuse of information."

In a defiant statement to IT Pro, Google said it plans to appeal the High Court's decision.

"A case almost identical to this one was dismissed in its entirety three months ago in the US," it states.

"We still don't think this case meets the standards required in the UK for it to go to trial, and we'll be appealing today's ruling."

Judith Vidal-Hall, one of the claimants, said the group are delighted Google will now have to answer questions about its privacy policies in an open court.

"We want to know how Google came to ignore user preferences to track us online; how did they get around Apple's program settings. They have said it was accidental, but how do you accidentally interfere with someone else's program?

"We want to know how long they have done this for, what they've done with our private data, how much they have made from this, and why they keep flouting privacy laws?"

Nick Pickles, director of privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch, told IT Pro the case highlights the importance of privacy regulation.

"It is an important principle that people are able to control who collects their information and how it is used and this case has the potential to enhance consumer protection and strengthen privacy in a number of areas," said Pickles.

"It is critical that companies respect the choices we make as consumers and this case could be a significant deterrent in the future."

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.