The company is facing a landmark group legal action by Britons angry over the way it circumvented settings on the iPhone to track their web usage. Google has already been fined a record $22.5m (£14.4m) by authorities in the United States over the practice.
In a submission to the High Court, however, Google has argued that as an American company it is not covered by British privacy laws. It said there was “no jurisdiction” for the case to be heard here because its consumer services are provided by Google Inc, based in Silicon Valley, rather than Google UK.
The move raises questions about the rights of millions of British internet users who rely on Google for basic services such as web search and email. Its rivals, such as Facebook and Microsoft, provide their consumer web services through European subsidiaries so could not make the same jurisdictional argument.