LONDON: A collective lawsuit, the first of its kind in the UK, has been filed against Google, which is accused of illegally harvesting the personal data of millions of Apple iPhone users.

The class action is led by Richard Lloyd, the former executive director of consumer group Which?, with top law firm Mishcon de Reya providing legal advice and a £15m fighting fund supported by Therium, a specialist litigation firm.

As reported by The Times, the cases focuses on allegations that Google collected personal information from approximately 5.4 million iPhone users between the beginning of June 2011 and February 15, 2012.

Google is alleged to have embedded computer code in the iPhones to bypass privacy settings to reveal users’ internet browsing activity and enable advertisers to serve targeted ads.

“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,” said Lloyd.

“In all my years speaking up for consumers, I’ve rarely seen such a massive abuse of trust where so many people have no way to seek redress on their own,” he continued.

“That’s why I’ve taken on one of the biggest fights of my life in representing this legal action, which is the first case of its kind in the UK against a major tech company for misusing our valuable personal data.”

Should the High Court rule against Google, Lloyd estimated that the more than five million people affected could be entitled to compensation of about £300 each, which would cost Google £1.62bn.

However, Google said in a statement: “This is not new – we have defended similar cases before. We don’t believe it has any merit.”

Sourced from The Times; additional content by WARC staff