Supreme Court Rules in favour of Google in iPhone “Secret Tracking” Case


The Supreme Court has rejected a claim against Google that the company misused web browsing data of iPhone users in the UK.

The claim was brought by former director of consumer group Which?, Richard Lloyd. He claimed that the tech giant had “secretly” collected user web browsing data between 2011 and 2012 from the Safari browser on iPhones, iPads and Macs.

Mr Lloyd did not bring the claim as an individual, but as a representative of over four million people affected by Google’s actions. The claim could have entitled over 4 million people in England and Wales to around £750 each, totalling around £3 billion.

The claim was started in 2017, when Mr Lloyd applied for permission for the case to be heard in the UK, out of Google’s US jurisdiction. Although the High Court initially refused the claim, the Court of Appeal upheld it and said that while Mr Lloyd’s “opt-out” style class action was “unusual”, it was permissible as iPhone users during this period were all victims of wrongdoing and suffered the same loss. Google appealed against this decision, escalating the case to the UK’s Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court ruled that in the absence of any evidence that Google had commercially benefited from the information, the quantity of the data, the period of time it was collected over or its sensitivity, an individual was not entitled to receive compensation.

The decision means the US technology giant will not have to compensate iPhone users.

The Supreme Court’s decision is final and cannot be appealed.

The matter has wider legal implications for consumer law, as it effectively closes off a potential opening for other consumer rights defenders to bring representative claims on behalf of consumers against companies who have breached privacy and data protection laws.


Gill Laing is a qualified Legal Researcher & Analyst with niche specialisms in Law, Tax, Human Resources, Immigration & Employment Law.

Gill is a Multiple Business Owner and the Managing Director of Prof Services - a Marketing Agency for the Professional Services Sector.

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