Legal hearing over Google privacy case

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Image caption The hearing will consider whether UK campaigners can pursue their case against Google

Britons accusing Google of violating their privacy by tracking them via Apple's Safari browser face the search giant in the High Court today.

In the hearing, Google is expected to ask for the case to be dismissed, as a similar case was recently in the US.

But lawyers for the Britons say UK laws have been broken so Google should be held to account in a UK court.

In the US, Google has already paid a record fine for tracking people via the Safari browser.

The legal spat arose over the way Google got round a feature in Apple's Safari browser that stopped advertising firms keeping an eye on where people went online.

Google used small text files called cookies to get around the "do not track" feature in order to keep monitoring people and piping tailored adverts to them.

In August 2012, Google paid $22.5m (£13.8m) to settle the case. At the time the payment was the largest fine ever imposed on a single company by the US Federal Trade Commission. Google has also paid a separate $17m fine levied by attorney generals in 38 US states for its actions.

The UK hearing revolves around a procedural question of whether UK campaigners can continue with their case against Google.

Lawyers from legal firm Olswang argue that Google breached UK privacy laws and has a case to answer here.

"British users have a right to privacy protected by English and European laws," said Dan Tench from Olswang.

Google is expected to argue that the case does not meet the strict standards required for it to be heard in the UK.

"A case almost identical to this one was dismissed in its entirety two months ago in the US," said Google in a statement. "We're asking the Court to re-examine whether this case meets the standards required in the UK for a case like this to go to trial."

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