Google has won an appeal against a class action-style privacy litigation at the UK Supreme Court — avoiding what could have been up to £3BN in damages had it lost the case.
The long-running litigation was brought by veteran consumer rights campaigner, Richard Lloyd, who, since 2017, has been pursing a collective lawsuit, alleging Google applied a Safari workaround to override iPhone users’ privacy settings in Apple’s Safari browser between 2011 and 2012 — and seeking compensation for the breach for the estimated 4 million+ UK iPhone users affected.
Lloyd’s litigation had sought damages for privacy harms. More broadly, the suit sought to establish that a representative action could be brought in the UK seeking compensation for data protection violations — despite the lack of generic class action regime in UK law.
Back in 2018 the High Court blocked the suit from proceeding — but the following year the Court of Appeal overturned the judgment, allowing the lawsuit to be heard.
However today’s unanimous Supreme Court judgment essentially reverts to the High Court’s view: Blocking the representative action.
The Supreme Court justices took the view that damage/loss must be suffered to claim compensation and that the need to prove damage/loss on an individual basis cannot be skipped — meaning compensation cannot simply be applied uniformly for “loss of control” of personal data for each member of the claimed representative class, as the Lloyd…