More than 70 Apple iPhone users in Britain have joined a landmark privacy action against Google over the way it tracked their online habits, lawyers said.
The internet giant is facing the group privacy claim over the way it sidestepped Apple's security settings on the iPhone, iPad and desktop versions of its Safari web browser to monitor their behaviour. The US Federal Trade Commission fined it a then-record US$22.5 million last year over the effect of the privacy breach on American users.
More than 100 internet users have contacted law firm Olswang, which is co-ordinating the claim, since Sunday to register interest in joining the action.
A Facebook group set up by those suing Google, called Safari Users Against Google's Secret Tracking, has been "liked" by more than 430 people.
Dan Tench, the lawyer coordinating the claims, said on Tuesday: "We've had more than 70 people come forward to join this action. We are seeking further details in respect of these individuals' cases and, where appropriate, will be making further claims for them against Google."
The litigation is the first group privacy claim against Google in the UK and could run up a significant legal bill for the search firm.
An estimated 10 million Britons owned iPhones between the summer of 2011 and the spring of last year, when the breach allegedly occurred. It is understood the claimants are suing Google for breaches of confidence and breach of privacy, computer misuse and trespass, and breach of the Data Protection Act 1998.
Google declined to comment.
Additional reporting by Bloomberg