A multi-billion pound UK class action lawsuit against Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL ), which alleges the internet giant secretly tracked millions of iPhone users, is not viable and will not It should be allowed to process, the company declared Wednesday before the Supreme Court.
Antony White, a lawyer for Google, said on the first day of a hearing that the first US-style data protection lawsuit could only seek redress under English law if any data breach had led the plaintiffs to suffer. damage.
“It’s not that the loss of personal data doesn’t have serious consequences, but you can’t always do it in a way that attracts compensation,” he said, adding that any uniform compensation would also not take into account different phone usage.
Richard Lloyd, former head of consumer rights group Which?, is leading the lawsuit seeking to expand Britain’s fledgling class action regime and billion-pound data protection cases against tech giants including Facebook (NASDAQ: FB ), TikTok and YouTube.
Lloyd has previously calculated that damages could be as high as 750 pounds per iPhone user, which could push damages to more than 3 billion pounds ($4.2 billion) if any future lawsuits are successful.
The case, brought on behalf of more than four million Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) iPhone users, revolves around the question of whether Google breached its obligations as a data controller by surreptitiously collecting browser-generated data and then offer them to advertisers in 2011 and 2012 and whether such a class action can proceed in the UK.
Experts say the case is “hugely significant” and caution companies that collect and use personal data for commercial gain to consider whether they are acting fairly and transparently.
“If the judgment is in favor of the plaintiffs, we will see the doors open to a tsunami of representative data class action lawsuits in the UK,” said Julian Copeman, a partner at Herbert Smith Freehills.
Critics of “opt-out” class action lawsuits, which automatically bind a defined group in a lawsuit unless individuals opt out, say they can lead to unsubstantiated claims and lavish profits for litigants and their funders. .
Advocates contend that they facilitate access to justice, especially when individual claims are too small to pursue individually, and that alternative “voluntary participation” lawsuits, in which each plaintiff signs up, are costly and time-consuming. weather.
The Confederation of British Industry, a trade body, says such cases could be “highly damaging”, noting that the risk of damages could drive settlements regardless of the merits of a case.