Google Versus UK: Google Faces a Class Action Lawsuit and a Probe


Image source:

Google is in a bit of a bind, just as the year is ending. It seems that over at the United Kingdom, Google is facing a class action lawsuit and a probe by UK officials. While the first one was caused by Google’s continuous disrespect for people’s privacy as long as they can turn a profit from it, the second one was triggered by the events that took place this month in the US, where a number of US officials gathered together to condemn Google, Facebook, and Twitter for allegedly allowing foreign influences to affect the US presidential elections way back in 2016. As the belief that the Russians were somehow involved and related to a series of Facebook and Twitter accounts that were pro-Trump, so is the suspicion of UK’s anti-Brexit side that the Russians were somehow also involved with influencing the Brexit election.

Google’s Lack of Respect

Google CEO Sundar Pichai (Image Source: Business Insider)

Google CEO Sundar Pichai (Image Source: Business Insider)

Google’s class action lawsuit is all thanks to a UK-based group known as “Google You Owe Us.” The group believes that Google unlawfully collected information from 5 million Apple iPhone British users in 2012. It was at the time when Google, along with a number of other tech companies, was caught bypassing the iPhone’s Safari browser’s privacy settings using a workaround. This let them put cookies even though the browser was restricted. The group claims that Google used this to find out what sites the persons viewed. They then used this information to sell a targeted advertising service.

This will be the first time UK will be suing a giant US tech company. Richard Lloyd, who is leading the case against Google, states that he believes that what Google did “was simply against the law.”

“Their actions have affected millions, and we’ll be asking the courts to remedy this major breach of trust,” he added. “Through this action, we will send a strong message to Google and other tech giants in Silicon Valley that we’re not afraid to fight back if our laws are broken.”

In 2012 Google paid $22.5 million to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) concerning the same case. If UK’s High Court finds them guilty, Google may face another fine similar to the one they paid in 2012. Google responded that they would try to defend themselves.

Russia And Brexit

The probe mentioned is another case and, as mentioned earlier as well, this has something to do with Brexit and the US elections. Weeks ago, US officials gathered Google, Facebook, and Twitter representatives to show them alleged Russian accounts tweeting and discussing US politics and discuss the possible interference of Russia on the US presidential elections in 2016 and the possibility that these 3 big companies helped the Russians unwittingly. This is despite the fact that all three companies are left-wing platforms that have censored and banned a lot of right-wing leaning accounts and users during the heat of the election campaigns.

And now, UK officials suspect that the same thing happened during Brexit. Last month Simon Milner, Facebook’s UK policy chief, has let it slip that Google received a letter similar to what they got from the UK’s chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Select Committee in Parliament, Damian Collins.

The letter asks for examples of ads and pages used by the alleged Russian accounts. They also ask Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, to send a list of the accounts and any examples of posts that are allegedly related to the suspected Russian troll farm, the Internet Research Agency.

The Russians Did It

Vladimir Putin recognizes that he who leads the AI race will rule the world (Image Source: Pixabay)

Vladimir Putin is allegedly a friend of the head of the Internet Research Agency (Image Source: Pixabay)

Basically the tech companies are saying that the Russians are to be blamed for Brexit and the appointment of Donald Trump as the US president. These accusations are giving them a means to legitimize the rampant deletions and bans they handed out to their political opponents in their respective platforms and illegitimatize the people’s vote in the UK to leave the EU, and in the US to put Trump into power. Google, for example, reported that the Russians spent thousands of dollars on ads and YouTube. Facebook, too, is reporting 150 Russian-related ads on Instagram and 3,000 others in Facebook. Twitter also reported 3,000 accounts that are related to Moscow.

The weird thing about this is while Russians can gain at least a few years of peace if they were involved and helped in putting Trump as president, there seems to be no reason for the Russians to involve themselves with the Brexit vote. In the end, the EU was still able to form an “EU army” even without the help of the UK. The EU army seems to be the only thing that would have made the Kremlin worry and if that was so then they would have targeted major supporters of the EU, such as Germany, France, and Belgium, instead of the UK.