A security camera is mounted near Google. Picture: BLOOMBERG
A security camera is mounted near Google. Picture: BLOOMBERG

London — iPhone users suing Google over data-collection claims may be seeking as much as £3.2bn, the search giant said in a court filing.

The group representing iPhone users, known as Google You Owe Us, now includes 4.4-million people, according to documents filed with the court at a hearing on Monday. The group says the Alphabet unit unlawfully collected people’s personal information by bypassing Apple’s iPhone default privacy settings.

While any potential damages are still to be determined, the group has suggested each individual could receive £750 if the case is successful, Google said in court documents. The company denies the allegations and argued at the hearing that the dispute did not belong in a London court.

Privacy has been a hot topic for the manufacturers of the world’s most popular devices, from Apple to Samsung to Google. In 2015, Apple allowed iPhone and iPad users to start installing content blockers — software that can block adverts on websites, for example — on their devices as a way of giving people more control over how their data is gathered and used.

Led by consumer advocate Richard Lloyd, the group is seeking permission to hear the case as a "representative action" that is akin to a US class action, arguing that all the customers share the same interests.

The group said that Google used an algorithm that allowed developers to track a user’s browsing history and collect personal information. The algorithm acted to get around the default settings of Apple’s Safari browser, which blocked third-party tracking via cookies.