Yesterday, a consumer watchdog in the UK filed an unprecedented representative action against Google for allegedly misusing personal data.  According to the group Google You Owe Us, between June 2011 and February 2012, Google bypassed the default privacy settings on over 5 million users’ iPhones in the UK to collect user data unlawfully.

The lawsuit, which was filed in London’s High Court, claims that Google violated the UK Data Protection Act by taking users’ personal information without permission and seeks compensation for nearly 5.4 million impacted UK residents.

This representative action – the first of its kind against a tech company in the UK for misusing personal information – follows on the heels of Google settlements in the US with the FTC, state attorneys general and private class action litigants for similar claims, as well as a settlement in the UK for similar claims made by several consumers.

In a growing trend, the litigation is funded by an investment company that would be entitled to a fee if the litigation is successful.

Google has denied the allegations and indicates it will contest the lawsuit.  We will continue to follow developments in this case.