A privacy class action lawsuit against Google has been halted by the UK Supreme Court as claimant is unable to prove damage to affected users.
A billion dollar class action lawsuit against tech giant Google has been denied by the UK Supreme Court. The case, originally filed by Richard Lloyd, on behalf of a group called “Google, You Owe Us” relates to the unlawful tracking of millions of iPhone users. Between August 2011 and February 2012, Google allegedly bypassed iPhone security and collected personal data through the Safari browser. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 4.4 million residents of England and Wales, claiming £3 billion in damages. However this case has been dismissed due to the fact that the claimant was unable to prove any damage to the individuals by Google’s alleged unlawful tracking and data collection, according to this report from IAPP.
The judge dismissed the privacy class action lawsuit, stating that the affected individuals suffered no material damage or distress as a result of the breach.
The class action, previously dismissed in 2018, but subsequently overturned by the UK Court of Appeal has now been dismissed by the UK Supreme court. The judge in this case, Judge George Leggatt concluded that there was no evidence of damage suffered by the individuals affected by this breach. Judge Leggatt said “The claimant seeks damages, for each individual member of the represented class without attempting to show that any wrongful use was made by Google of personal data relating to that individual or that the individual suffered any material damage or distress as a result of a breach.” Members of the public have expressed outrage at this ruling, claiming that it undermines equality, and that not enough has been done to protect the right of the individual against large tech firms like Google which break the law and put the personal data of citizens at risk.
Privacy experts have been following this case very closely, due to the implications the ruling would have on other class actions in the UK.
As similar cases circulate, privacy experts have been in a state of anticipation for the outcome of this class action lawsuit, knowing that the result of this may have far reaching implications. One such case is that of TikTok being accused of using children’s data without informed consent, as reported by BBC. Lawyers claim that TikTok takes children’s personal information, including phone numbers, videos, exact location and even biometric data, with neither adequate warning and transparency, nor the necessary consent required by law. Allegedly, children or parents are not being made aware of what is being done with that information. TikTok has called these claims baseless and expressed its intent to fight them.
“This case stems from the right to compensation provided by the (UK) GDPR, whereby any person who has suffered a material or non-material damage as a result of an infringement of the (UK) GDPR can claim compensation from the controller or the processor. As a first step, one should try to obtain compensation by writing to or speaking with the organisation directly. However, if no agreement is reached, a court claim can be made. The seriousness of the breach and the impact on the individual, especially in terms of the distress caused, are two of the determining elements. In order for a controller or a processor to be exempt from this liability, they will need to prove that they are not in any way responsible for the event giving rise to the damage” explains Cristina Contero Almagro, partner in Aphaia.