Supreme Court blocks case against Google

The judgment in Lloyd v Google was handed down this week by the Supreme Court but it was not good news for the action brought by representative claimant Richard LLoyd, alleging breaches of the Data Protection Act 1998 by Google. Lloyd, a consumer activist, had brought the case, representing Apple iPhone users in England and Wales.

Google was alleged to have ‘illegally misused the data of millions of iPhone users’, through the ‘clandestine tracking and collation’ of information about internet usage on iPhones’ Safari browser, Lloyd’s legal team argued - backed by litigation funders. Essentially, it was suggested that Google was illegally misusing data.

The Supreme Court held that ‘an individual is only entitled to compensation under section 13 [of the DPA 1998] where “damage” – or in some circumstances “distress” – is suffered’, and thus determined that the case against Google was ‘doomed to fail’, refusing permission for Lloyd to serve proceedings on Google outside of jurisdiction.

While this particular case cannot continue, Lloyd suggested outside the court that while the bar has now been set extremely high, the court has endorsed the procedure, so other claims may now be able to come forward and succeed. Consumers are more than ever aware of their own privacy, and lawyers are suggesting that this area will be a strongly contested area.

Meanwhile, businesses should be reminded that while this case has set the bar high in terms of requirement of evidence (essentially requiring the consumer to not just show a data breach but that this led to evidenced financial loss or distress) in due course, it may lead to more consumer claims over data breaches not just in relation to so-called tech giants but also ordinary businesses. Once again businesses are reminded to ensure that policies, procedures and training are up-to-date.

Posted on 11/12/2021 by Ortolan

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