Mar 30, 2015

Google Loses Appeal Against Decision to Allow Consumers the Right to Sue Over Misuse of Privacy Settings

Google has lost its appeal to have an earlier High Court ruling set aside. A group of internet privacy activists previously alleged that Google had violated privacy settings and had manipulated them to enable tracking cookies to target Safari users with personalised advertising. The group claimed that UK Safari users should be given the right to sue Google for misusing the security settings and accessing their personal data without their knowledge.

The original proceedings came about when it was discovered that Google had bypassed default security settings on devices using the Safari browser to place cookies that gather data without user's knowledge to record the browser's information and use the data to generate targeted advertising. The cookies were designed to block third party cookie settings and instead replace with cookies that refer users to Google's site. Safari is the default browser on most Apple products.

Three Court of Appeal Judges upheld the earlier High Court ruling and confirmed that the case fell within the jurisdiction of England and Wales and therefore claims for damages can be brought against the company in the UK.

Google had tried to stop consumers having the right to sue on the basis that there had been no financial harm caused. They also claimed that the group which brought the original claim had no right to sue in England as Google's head office is located in California. Google said that the, "alleged incursion in to the private life by the use of cookies does not reach a level of seriousness to engage Article 8 (of the Human Rights Act 1998)".

The Court of Appeal disagreed and found that there had most certainly been a breach of Consumer Civil Rights therefore claims for damages caused by the manipulation of the settings will be allowed. It is now expected that numerous claims will be brought against Google as has been the case already in the US.

in: Case Law, Civil Procedure, Companies, Consumer Law, Digital/Tech, News

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