Google challenges decision allowing UK data subjects to sue it in England for cookies violations

On December 8, 2014, the UK Court of Appeal began hearing Google’s appeal against the High Court’s decision which allowed UK data subjects to sue Google Inc. in England for misuse of private information.

In brief, at the beginning of 2013, several claimants alleged that Google used cookies to track their browsing activity without their consent. As a defense, Google claimed that it could not be served before a UK court being a corporation registered in Delaware with principal place of business in California.

However, in January 2014, the High Court held that the breach of privacy is a tort: the courts of England were the appropriate jurisdiction for UK citizens to try the claims against Google Inc.

Google challenged the decision before the UK Court of Appeal. In its  argument Google — in addition to challenging the UK jurisdiction — claimed that the case should not be heard because the plaintiff did not suffer any damage. Google contended that data subjects cannot claim compensation for non-pecuniary damages unless they can prove a pecuniary loss.

However, the plaintiffs argued that EU Law does not differentiate between pecuniary loss and non-pecuniary damage.

It is reported (see this website) that on Dec 8, 2014, the appeal was adjourned “because the Court was concerned that there would not be enough time to deal with the very important issues regarding the Data Protection Act”. Also, since the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) intervened in the case to support the claimants’ position, the judges intends to hear oral arguments directly from the agency. The appeal is schedule to continue in January 2015.

For a similar violation in 2013 in the US  there was a class action law suit against Google, which was dismissed because the plaintiffs could not prove they suffered any harm. While the case was dismissed, the Federal Trade Commission fined the company $22.5 million for this 2012 instance.


High Court’s decision dated Jan 16, 2014 is available at http://www.bailii…, Open Pdf

Google Supplementary Skeleton Argument is available at http://www.googlelawsuit…Open Pdf

Claimants’ Supplemental Skeleton Argument is available at http://www.googlelawsuit...

More information on US Delaware District Court Opinion is available at http://www.technethics…

More information on FTC fine is available at http://www.technethics…


For more information contact Francesca Giannoni-Crystal


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