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Google privacy case can be heard in UK, court rules

The internet giant will be appealing the decision, having argued that the trial should take place in California.

Image: Chris Ison/PA Wire/Press Association Images

BRITAIN’S HIGH COURT ruled on Thursday that a group of internet users can sue US tech giant Google over an alleged breach of privacy legislation.

The California-based internet giant had applied to have the case thrown out on the grounds that a British court has no jurisdiction to deal with it.

The internet users accuse Google of bypassing security settings on Apple’s Safari browser to track their browsing and target them with personalised adverts.

High Court judge Michael Tugendhat ruled that British courts were the “appropriate jurisdiction” to try their claims.

“I am satisfied that there is a serious issue to be tried in each of the claimant’s claims for misuse of private information,” Tugendhat said.

“The claimants have clearly established that this jurisdiction is the appropriate one in which to try each of the above claims.”

The case was brought by the Safari Users Against Google’s Secret Tracking group, which includes a publisher and two IT security company directors.

“The Google argument that any trial should take place in California has not been accepted by the judge,” a spokesman for the group said.

Google said it would ask Britain’s Court of Appeal to hear its case.

“A case almost identical to this one was dismissed in its entirety three months ago in the US,” a spokeswoman said.

“We still don’t think that this case meets the standards required in the UK for it to go to trial, and we’ll be appealing today’s ruling.”

Google faces privacy cases in a number of countries.

Last week, France’s data protection watchdog fined the US giant 150,000 euros ($204,000) — the maximum possible — for failing to comply with its privacy guidelines.

- © AFP 2014

Read: EU puts further pressure on Google to address antitrust concerns >

Read: Spain watchdog fines Google €900,000 for privacy ‘violations’ >

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