Google wants UK privacy case tried abroad, lawyer claims

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Google is seeking to stop a lawsuit, claiming it illegally tracked internet users, from being heard in the UK, the claimants' lawyer Dan Tench says.

Dozens of UK users of Apple's Safari web browser claim Google bypassed a privacy setting without telling them.

The Sunday Times reported that Google's lawyers have filed papers with the High Court which said any information gleaned from its search engine was not "private or confidential".

Google declined to comment.

The case is in its early stages and lawyers have yet to appear in court to present their arguments.

However, Google has already been fined by the US trade watchdog for flouting Safari security settings.

The British claimants, who launched their campaign earlier in the year, argued that between summer 2011 and spring 2012 they were assured by Google that their online activity was not being tracked, and believed Safari's settings to be secure.

'Inherently personal'

But, they say, cookies - which allow websites to "remember" the user - were used to collect data about the online activities of web users to allow Google to provide targeted advertising to them.

Safari has a setting that is supposed to block the cookie software used by internet companies to track their customers' behaviour.

Google, worth about $285bn (£182bn), has suggested that British courts should not decide the matter, and the case should be heard by a court in California because that is where the company's software is based, according to reports.

The internet giant has tried to use this tactic in other cases against it, Mr Tench said.

But the lawyer said he believed the "harmful action" took place in the UK, where his clients lived and accessed the internet, so it would be appropriate for the case to proceed here.

"Google are trying to resist this claim on the basis of whether the UK is the appropriate jurisdiction to bring the action," he said.

"If they were right, that would constitute a very significant, practical handicap on anybody bringing any complaint against Google."

A British judge is expected to rule on the issue of jurisdiction in October.

In its submission to the UK's High Court, Google also said the information taken was not "private or confidential".

Mr Tench said: "I do find it surprising that Google is seriously trying to contend that there is no expectation of privacy in one's history of internet usage.

"That is something inherently, intimately, personal, where one would have a very high expectation of privacy."

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