By Kirstin Ridley
LONDON (Reuters) – A UK multibillion pound class action lawsuit against Google, which alleges the internet giant has secretly tracked millions of iPhone users, is unsustainable and should not be allowed to continue, the Supreme Court said on Wednesday.
Antony White, an attorney for Google, said on the first day of a two-day hearing that the first US-style data protection lawsuit could only seek redress under English laws if a data breach led the claimants to suffer damage.
“It is not my case that the loss of personal data may not have serious consequences, but it will not always do so in a way that results in compensation,” he said, adding that any reward uniform would also not take into account the differences in use of the telephone.
Richard Lloyd, former director of consumer rights group Which ?, is leading the claim to expand Britain’s fledgling class action regime – and the multibillion-pound protection claims data against tech giants, such as Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube, is based on judgment.
Lloyd previously estimated that damage could reach 750 pounds per iPhone user, which could increase the damage to more than 3 billion pounds ($ 4.2 billion) if a future test is successful.
The case, brought on behalf of more than four million Apple iPhone users, hinges on whether Google breached its obligations as a data controller by covertly collecting browser-generated data. , then offering them to advertisers in 2011 and 2012 – and whether such a class action can proceed in Britain.
Experts say the case is “extremely important” and are warning companies that collect and use tons of personal data for business purposes to determine if they are acting in a fair and transparent manner.
“If the judgment goes in favor of the plaintiffs, we will see the floodgates open to a tsunami of representative data class actions in the UK,” said Julian Copeman, partner at Herbert Smith Freehills.
Critics of ‘opt-out’ class actions, which automatically bind a defined group in a lawsuit unless individuals opt out, say they can lead to baseless claims and lush profits for lawyers and their lawyers. donors.
Proponents say they allow easier access to justice, especially when individual claims are too small to be pursued individually, and alternative “opt in” lawsuits, where each claimant registers, are costly and take time. time.
The Confederation of British Industry, a trade body, says such cases could be “very damaging”, noting that the risk of ruinous damages could result in settlements regardless of the merits of a case.
(Reporting by Kirstin Ridley; editing by Barbara Lewis)