Group Action against Google for Safari Cookies Exploit

Background

In February 2012, Jonathon Mayer (a researcher at Stanford's Center for Internet and Society) discovered that Google was circumventing privacy settings in Apple's Safari web browser.

Mayer alleges that Google deliberately exploited a feature in Safari to bypass privacy settings designed to block third party cookies and references Google's own web site which instructs users to use the setting if they wish to block Google tracking cookies.

In February 2012, the UK's Information Commissioner's Office announced they were investigating whether or not Google had broken UK law - specifically the Data Protection Act and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations but to date have failed to take any enforcement action against Google.

In August 2012, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that Google had agreed to pay a fine of $22.5M for violation of its Control Order (a legal commitment placed on Google by the FTC for previous privacy violations) - the largest ever fine issued by the FTC for breach of a control order.

In January 2013, Olswang LLP sent a Letter Before Action to Google UK and Google US informing them of their intent to file a lawsuit on behalf of 12 claimants in the UK. Olswang have stated the case will become a Group Action (similar to class action in the US) and are inviting all members of the UK public who were using the Safari Browser during the six month period (September 2011 - February 2012), to come forward and join the action. With an estimated 10 million Safari users in the UK at the time, this group action has the potential of becoming the largest ever group action filed in the UK and furthermore the largest privacy complaint ever to be heard in UK courts.