The UK Supreme Court has blocked a planned 3.2 billion pound ($4.3 billion) British class action against Google over allegations the internet giant unlawfully tracked the personal information of millions of iPhone users.
Britain's top judges unanimously granted a Google appeal against the country's first such data privacy case on Wednesday, a move that upsets a string of similar claims waiting in the wings against other companies including Facebook and TikTok.
The landmark case brought by Richard Lloyd, a consumer rights activist and the former director of Which? magazine, sought to extend Britain's class action regime to include compensation claims for the misuse of data - even if there is no obvious financial loss or distress.
Google said the claim was related to events that took place a decade ago and were addressed at the time.
"People want to know that they are safe and secure online, which is why for years we've focused on building products and infrastructure that respect and protect people's privacy," a Google spokesperson said.
Lloyd alleged that Google secretly took more than 5 million Apple iPhone users' personal data between 2011 and 2012 by bypassing default privacy settings on the Safari browser to track internet browsing histories.
Google used this to sell a targeted advertising service, Lloyd alleged, adding that the company earned $80 billion from advertising alone in 2016.