back to article UK High Court blocks iPhone Safari privacy suit against Google

The UK High Court has blocked an attempt by British consumer rights advocates to fling a multibillion-pound class-action sueball at Google over iPhone handset tracking allegations. The full judgment (PDF) was handed down in London today. cash Google coughs up $17m to end Safari STALKER COOKIE brouhaha READ MORE The case was …

  1. Ratty.

    Next steps

    Are they advising that each of launch a lawsuit, so that there are now 20,000 law suits against Google?

    No doubt with many of us having a the lack of access to legal experts, each law suit will be different and require a different defense. Also, are judges paid by the hour?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Next steps

      Are they advising that each of launch a lawsuit, so that there are now 20,000 law suits against Google

      In the UK (unlike the US) it is normal practice for the winner of legal action to have their legal costs paid by the loser. As a private individual, you'd have to be very confident that you wouldn't be forking out for Google's legal costs. In fact, your own lawyer is professionally required to check that you have the means to pay if you do lose. And if you can't show that you could pay up for Google's top tier law firm and their padded time sheets, your own lawyer would have to turn you down.

      You could of course use the UK small claims court process, because the use of lawyers by companies is frowned upon and usually not awarded costs even if the claimant loses. Question: How many of those affected fancy some DIY Rumpolery through a small claims process? My guess is none.

      1. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: Next steps

        You could of course use the UK small claims court process, because the use of lawyers by companies is frowned upon and usually not awarded costs even if the claimant loses. Question: How many of those affected fancy some DIY Rumpolery through a small claims process? My guess is none.

        There is a significant element of costs involved if you make a mistake though. I've seen cases where seemingly trivial breaches of rules or procedures resulted in costs of applications to dismiss reach ££,000.

        I have used the courts myself in the past, but only as a last resourt for something very important to me. If I felt the matter in any way trivial, I'd avoid the courts at all times. Staying as far away from lawyers as is possible is a key ingredient to financial success.

    2. JimBlueMK

      Re: Next steps

      No the judge is effectively saying that while Google collected data without the consent of the data subject, there is no clear harm suffered by the data subject as a consequence. As such making an individual claim is worthless as if you cannot show harm you cannot make a claim.

      The best that could happen is that the ICO imposes a fine on Google for collecting the data.

      1. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: Next steps

        The best that could happen is that the ICO imposes a fine on Google for collecting the data.

        Which the ICO won't do because they're basically just a fig leaf that corporations can hide DPA/GDPR breaches behind. A stern letter is the most they'll do.

    3. TheVogon Silver badge

      Re: Next steps

      I'm guessing that sales of popcorn have climbed in legal circles. And yachts.

  2. ratfox Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Not suffered damage?

    Did he just say that they couldn't get money from Google because they didn't really care about the loss of privacy?

    1. Spazturtle Silver badge

      Re: Not suffered damage?

      Yeah the judge said he didn't see how having their rights violated caused them damage, which is a pretty worrying thing for a judge to say.

      The violation of their rights is itself damage.

      1. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: Not suffered damage?

        Yeah the judge said he didn't see how having their rights violated caused them damage, which is a pretty worrying thing for a judge to say.

        I've used the old DPA against companies in court in the past. I may be mistaken, but the definition of damage in this sense is direct financial loss, rather than other forms of damage. I think it sucks - the way I see it is that causing me months of stress is worse than causing my a couple of grand financial loss.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not suffered damage?

      Or they were damaged, but weren't distressed by it. (Need 20,000 photos of people crying?)

    3. JimBlueMK

      Re: Not suffered damage?

      No he said there is no specific financial loss which can be claimed. He also points out that there are other remedies that can be requested such as deletion of the data which would address the loss of privacy.

      Privacy is important but unless you as a victim of a breach of privacy incur some sort of financial loss, you are limited only to claiming that one of the other remedies be applied.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not suffered damage?

        "No he said there is no specific financial loss which can be claimed."

        That seems inconsistent with the Google v Vidal-Hall Court of Appeal ruling, which stated that allowing compensation only in the case of financial loss is not consistent with EU law, and has been used as the basis of awarding compensation on a "distress" basis, e.g.: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/02/10/scottish_court_issues_damages_to_couple_over_distress_caused_by_neighbours_use_of_cctv/

        :S

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How much?

    Lower limit of claimed compensation of £1bn, 20,000 claimants equals £50k per claimant for six months of creepy Google tracking. Who were these people that their location data is worth near on four times the average UK salary?

    Maybe the case wouldn't have been laughed out of court if they'd come up with some more convincing value for the harm.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: How much?

      Not four times the average income.

      According to the ONS

      The average UK annual salary or monthly wage of full-time employees differs drastically across industries. According to the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE), average gross annual earnings for full-time employees was £27,600 in 2015, which was a 1.6% increase from the previous year.

      but I get your point.

      However it is like US District Attournies standing in front of the Court House and saying, "We will be pushing for the Maxmimum Sentence of Life without Parole" and hours later the defendant walking away with 5 years probation and the same DA saying that we got a 'good result'

      £50K is a barganing position.

    2. Spazturtle Silver badge

      Re: How much?

      "Who were these people that their location data is worth near on four times the average UK salary?"

      It's their data so they get to decide it's value. If I make a painting and try and sell it for £1m but you steal it from the gallery then you can't say, 'oh well it was only worth £50k so that's all I am going to give you' and try and pay that as compensation. I get to decide the value of my own things.

  4. LDS Silver badge
    Devil

    Google: "The privacy and security of our users [...]"

    Define "users", please...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well, this looks a bit like Schrems vs Facebook to me..

    .. so let's quickly escalate this into the EU before Brexit. Might as well put some of that tax money to work, even if it is more for entertainment than for any hope of getting a payment out of it.

  6. Hans 1 Silver badge
    Holmes

    What a relief!

    One moment, Google illegally scooped up localisation data from people over a period of six months and get away with it .... crime pays off nicely, then, and all is fine ... and google harassing you with ads of a disliked competitor of the local DIY store or clothes store you visited over the course of those 6 months is fine, right ?

    "We at Google take the privacy of our users^H^H^H^H^Hproducts very seriously and would never do anything with the data we collected. We at Google do not even know why it was collected, we suspect it must have been a bug and we are very sorry."

    Google laughing all the way to some Cayman Islands bank ...

    PS: You can replace Google with Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Twatter, Instagram, Amazon, you name it ...

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