Google was sued by a group of U.K. consumers called "Google You Owe Us" over claims that the company collected personal data from millions of users of Apple's iPhone.
The group's members believe that between 1 June 2011 and 15 February 2012, Google took "millions of iPhone users' internet browsing data illegally" by bypassing default privacy settings on the iPhone Safari browser, allowing it to collect browsing data without users' consent. This was referred to in court proceedings as "the Safari Workaround".
The default privacy settings on Safari, Apple's web browser, meant it did not accept third party cookies on to your phone.
However, according to the group, 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 iPhones. "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," the group added. "Google used this data to sell a service to its advertising network called (DoubleClick Service), according to the group.
Approximately 5.4 million individuals were affected between 2011 and 2012, according to the group.
In July 2017, Google was formally notified of the group's claim. When the case goes to court, Richard Lloyd, a consumer advocate, will act as the representative.
"We don't believe it has any merit and we will contest it," the Google said in a statement.
Groups are allowed to bring lawsuits representing millions of people, even if those people haven't asked to be represented. However, to succeed in court they have to show that those customers share the same interests, which can make group legal challenges like this one more difficult.