Tue. Dec 7th, 2021


Google on Wednesday won a groundbreaking appeal to the UK Supreme Court, which blocked a US-style class-action lawsuit brought on behalf of more than 4 million Apple iPhone users in English courts over Google’s alleged personal data tracing.

The highest court in the UK has barred Richard Lloyd, a former director of the consumer group Which ?, from filing legal documents on Google in the US – ending a £ 3.3 billion lawsuit filed on Apple iPhone users have been sued, claiming their internet activity was secretly tracked down by Google between 2011 and 2012.

If Lloyd’s lawsuit had been allowed to continue in English courts, lawyers said it would have permanently changed the legal landscape for technology companies by allowing millions of consumers to band together in US class action lawsuits, and it would have opened the floodgates. for mass litigation against IT companies over data breaches.

The case, which was brought under the Data Protection Act 1998, depended on two points of English law – whether individuals should be compensated for the fact that personal data is taken without permission, as well as whether citizens in a representative class- style group can team up. to sue companies in the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the claim could not succeed. Lord George Leggatt, one of the judges of the Supreme Court, ruled that the lawsuit was “doomed to fail” because Lloyd was unable to prove that Google’s alleged illegal actions caused any financial damage or distress to individuals and Lloyd could not say. what amount of personal data – if any – was processed illegally.

Lloyd’s case was brought on an “opt-out” basis, which means that most people who owned an iPhone during the period in question were automatically included – unless they specifically withdrew from the lawsuit.

The ruling is highly significant because the English legal system has always deterred American-style class action lawsuits and requires law firms to first report individuals and then put together a group of plaintiffs with the same interest, which is a time-consuming and expensive process. . The only exception to this is in competition law cases where class actions for antitrust violations are allowed.

Google argued that Lloyd’s case should be dismissed, arguing that the court should not allow the case to proceed as a representative action.

The ruling is a blow to other consumer groups and data protection advocates who have filed a number of claims and awaited the Supreme Court ruling before proceeding to the trial.

Similar claims include a lawsuit against TikTok, launched by the former children’s commissioner on behalf of young people, as well as data breach claims against Facebook.

Lloyd said the verdict was a “blow to consumers” and he was “bitterly disappointed” that the court “set the barriers so high that it is impractical for my case”.

Google said: “The claim relates to events that took place a decade ago and that we addressed at the time.”

TechUK, the commercial body, welcomed the ruling, saying the case could have opened the door to “speculative and burdensome claims” with far-reaching consequences for the public sector and companies.



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