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Apple users: Only Apple can track us! Not Google

Brit Safari users fire off lawsuit against sneaky cookie

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

UK Apple fans are suing Google for tracking them online against their will over a five-month period.

iThing owners who used the Safari browser between September 2011 and February 2012 allege that Google bypassed the web browser's security settings to plant a temporary cookie that skimmed information from them to personalise ads.

Google acknowledged there was a cookie slip-up in February 2012 and removed the tracking code targeting Safari. Successful legal action by fanbois in the States has prompted British Safari users to start proceedings of their own. In the American case, investigated by the Federal Trade Commission Google was fined the relatively minor sum of $22.5m (£14m).

It took a Stanford researcher to spot the cookie planting gaffe by Google.

The British group set up a Facebook page yesterday to gather other people who may have been affected by the tracking. Safari Users against Google's Secret Tracking assessed the impact of the tracking:

It could mean for many users that surprises such as engagements, presents and holidays were destroyed when partners looked at their computers and saw display ads based on sites previously visited. There are many examples of the inappropriate consequences of such intrusion.

Google has claimed that the cookies it used did not contain personal information.

Media law firm Olswang is pursuing the case in the British courts. Olswang said its clients are seeking damages, disclosure and an apology from the company for a breach in confidence and privacy.

A spokeswoman for Google told The Register that the ad giant is offering no comment on this occasion. ®

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