Google You Owe Us ad tracking lawsuit fails in Supreme Court • The Register


Google succeeded in pushing back a £ 3 billion lawsuit in London over ad tracking cookies, defeating the Google You Owe Us campaign in the Supreme Court of England and Wales.

The case, brought in 2017, had “no real prospect of success,” the Supreme Court ruled unanimously this morning, in a devastating blow to organizations that hoped it would create a new law allowing them to Easily launch opt-out class actions against companies that leak user data or whose data stores are hacked.

Old which one? director Richard Lloyd was the frontman of the case. He lost because his legal team brought an action against Google “without attempting to demonstrate that Google misuse of personal data relating to that individual or that the individual suffered material damage or distress to as a result of a violation, “as the court ruled.

Lloyd continued his claim for financial damages from Google under section 13 of the Data Protection Act 1998, claiming that it was obvious that the implementation of ad tracking cookies through Safari Workaround was illegal – meaning that users who are subject to it should receive compensation. Lord Leggatt, delivering the Supreme Court judgment, ruled Lloyd’s legal team missed the mark by failing to collect evidence of “property damage or distress” for every individual who signed up for his class action lawsuit .

The Supreme Court judge added that Lloyd’s lawyers had set the bar too low for membership in their class. Instead of assessing whether each person in the group (action) had suffered measurable damage from the Safari Workaround cookies, they chose “not to rely on any facts about the internet activity of an individual iPhone user” .

The judge ruled: “I do not see that the facts that the plaintiff seeks to prove in each individual case are sufficient to cross that threshold.

In a statement, a Google spokesperson said: “This claim was linked to events that took place a decade ago and to which we responded at the time. People want to know they are online safe, which is why for years we have focused on building products and infrastructures that respect and protect people’s privacy.

Lloyd told media outside the court that the government should step in and clarify the rules around class action lawsuits. His campaign, Google You Owe Us, called this morning’s decision a “blow”, saying: “Although the Court has once again recognized that our action is the only practical way for millions of Britons to have access to fair redress, they ‘I have slammed the door on this case by deciding that all concerned must apply to court individually. “

Will Richmond-Coggan, a data protection lawyer at City Freeths, said: “This has broad implications for the very large number of collective complaints filed as a result of the Court of Appeal ruling, which depended on the mere fact of a technical violation of the law, rather than being able to indicate a specific loss or damage that had been suffered. Such claims are likely to be much more costly and take longer to bring in the future ”.

Although it dismissed the Lloyd’s case, the Supreme Court has also given the green light to commercial-controlled lawsuits by a nominal figurehead such as Lloyd, ruling: “There is no reason why a representative party cannot properly represent the interests of all members of the class, provided there is no real conflict of interest between them.

Julian Copeman, partner at London law firm Herbert Smith Freehills, said: “The Supreme Court has suggested that an American-style class action lawsuit could still be brought to determine liability, but smaller group claims would be. then necessary to deal with various compensation issues. Organizations still need to make sure their data and privacy risk management frameworks are fit for purpose – the floodgates have not been opened, but group data claims remain a threat. “

For now, at least, Google is breathing easily – although this morning’s multibillion-dollar judgment against it [PDF] in Luxembourg will not leave it much room for complacency. The General Court confirmed this morning the record fine of 2.42 billion euros imposed by the Commission in 2017 despite protests from the Chocolate Factory. He said a few minutes ago in a statement that he “recognizes the anti-competitive nature of the practice in question”. ®

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