Olswang partner advises ‘millions’ of UK Apple users in case against Google

The Olswang partner who advised News International against allegations of phone-hacking is advising a group of Apple users who claim that Google secretly tracked their browsing habits between September 2011 and February 2012.

Dan Tench
Dan Tench

Olswang media partner Dan Tench, who advised News International on phone-hacking claims before Linklaters took over in March last year (15 March 2012), has been contacted by over 70 internet users who claim that Google covertly tracked their online habits using Apple’s Safari.

A Facebook group set up on Tuesday (27 January), called Safari Users Against Google’s Secret Tracking, was made for those suing Google and has so far been “liked” by more than 517 people. However, Tench told The Lawyer that the potential pool of claimants is in its millions.

A blurb on the Facebook group outlines anger at Google for “deliberately” undermining protections on the Safari browser so that it could provide more targeted advertising.

“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,” the page reads. “There are many examples of the inappropriate consequences of such intrusion.”

At the time of writing Google was yet to respond to the group privacy claim and there was no known legal adviser. In the UK and Europe the search engine’s advisers have included Baker & McKenzie, Bird & Bird, Bristows, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, Herbert Smith, Reynolds Porter Chamberlain and Taylor Wessing.

Google’s Emea director of litigation Harjinder Obhi was named as one to watch in The Lawyer’s Hot 100 for 2013 (28 January 2012). He was not available for comment at the time of writing.

The allegations come as both Apple and Google are knocked off the list of America’s most trusted companies for privacy protection, according to an annual report by the Ponemon Institute.

The claims also arrive in the same week that a US judge rejected a bid by Apple, which was advised by Morrison & Foerster and WilmerHale, for higher damages from Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan client Samsung, though the judge upheld an earlier $1.05bn (£666m) ruling in Apple’s favour.