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Google: We Should Not Be Subject To British Privacy Law

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

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Google said to have made claim in defending itself against circumvention of Apple Safari cookie protections

Google lawyers have allegedly suggested the company is not subject to UK privacy laws and so should not have to deal with claims it circumvented Apple Safari privacy protections to enable tracking of users.

Lawyers made the assertion Google should only be challenged in its home state of California, in response to claims by three people who said their privacy was infringed by the company’s actions, according to the law firm representing them.

Google cookie crumbling

google-london-officeGoogle has already paid out $22.5 million in the US, for circumventing a default privacy setting in Safari that blocked third-party cookies. Law firm Olswang was brought in to help UK users fight Google in court, although the company has now removed the code used to get cookies on users’ machines.

“Google’s position on the law is the same as its position on tax: they will only play or pay on their home turf,” said one complainant, Judith Vidal-Hall.

“What are they suggesting- that they will force Apple users whose privacy was violated to pay to travel to California to take action when they offer a service in this country on a .co.uk site?”

Marc Bradshaw, another claimant, added: “It seems to us absurd to suggest that consumers can’t bring a claim against a company which is operating in the UK and is even constructing a $1 billion headquarters in London.

“If consumers can’t bring a civil claim against a company in a country where it operates, the only way of ensuring it behaves is by having a robust regulator.”

He said the UK regulator, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), did not have enough power to punish Google adequately, noting it can only fine companies up to £500,000.

“Google earns more than the maximum fine in less than two hours,” Bradshaw added.

Google had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.

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