British court clears way for lawsuits against Google for secret tracking

A British court cleared the way for lawsuits against Google for secret tracking after denying the company’s appeal to block litigation Friday.

The Internet giant was trying to prevent U.K. web surfers from suing over allegations Google gathered information about users without their consent, according to the BBC.

Google bypassed privacy settings on Apple’s Safari browser to track users’ Internet habits and demographics for targeted ads for nine months between 2011 and 2012, a group of Safari users claimed.

Google argued it should not be sued because tracking did not cause users financial harm.

But three judges upheld people’s right to sue for damages because of “the anxiety and distress this intrusion upon autonomy has caused,” they said in their ruling.

“Ordinary computer users like me will now have the right to hold this giant to account before the courts for its unacceptable, immoral and unjust actions,” said Judith Vidal-Hall, who brought a case against Google.

The tech behemoth said it was “disappointed” by the decision.

Google had to pay for secretly tracking millions of U.S. web users in 2012, shelling out more than $22 million to the Federal Trade Commission in the largest fine the agency had ever issued against a company at the time.