While privacy laws and lawsuits vary around the world, there’s a lawsuit in the United Kingdom that is both very interesting and potentially instructive for consumers in the United States.  As reported by Lisa Vaas, a Court of Appeals in the United Kingdom rejected Google’s appeal of a lower court decision allowing United Kingdom consumers to sue Google (www.nakedsophos.com; “Safari users win right to sue Google over secret cookies”; March 30th).

Per Ms. Vaas, the lawsuit’s being brought by a group of consumers called “Safari Users Against Google’s Secret Tracking.”  The group alleges that Google is tracking Safari users in the United Kingdom by bypassing the consumers’ privacy settings and, by doing so, is tracking them online and sending targeted advertisements to them.  The suit alleges that Google was able to get around Safari’s default privacy setting.  When it did, Ms. Vaas reports that the lawsuit alleges that Google found and collected information about the consumers’ online activities including such personal data as their “…social class, race, and ethnicity, all without users’ knowledge.”

In her article, Ms. Vaas wrote about prior fines Google has paid to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in response to FTC’s allegations about this very issue in the United States.  While Google has paid fines, facing a consumers’ lawsuit could result in potentially more lawsuits with even larger potential fines.

The potential outcome from this lawsuit will make it an important one to follow.