A recent claim for billions of pounds in damages from tech giant Google for allegedly tracking iPhone users’ has now been rejected by the UK Supreme Court.
It’s a disappointing decision for millions of iPhone users. But, the judge ruled that there wasn’t enough evidence that damage had been caused to the users by collecting their data.
Going forward, however, the possibility of any future mass-action lawsuits cannot be ruled out, as the judge suggested they could go ahead in the future if damages can be determined.
Additionally, he said that if a claim was made in the future by an individual, rather than a mass-action lawsuit, there might be a higher chance of success.
The case was brought forward by the former director of consumer group Which?, Richard Lloyd. He claimed that Google collected users’ data on health, finance, sexuality, ethnicity, and more using Apple’s Safari web browser, even when users have chosen the privacy setting “do not track”.
He sought £4.4 billion for the affected users. This would only be a small payout for each user, but it would be a huge fine for Google that may act as a deterrent against further breaches.
Lord Leggatt – the judge on this case – said in his judgment that the problem is that “the claim has been framed in order to try to bring it as a representative action” to people.
His statement added, “The claimant seeks damages… for each individual member of the represented class without attempting to show that any wrongful use was made by Google of personal data relating to that individual or that the individual suffered any material damage or distress as a result of a breach. Without proof of these matters, a claim for damages cannot succeed.”
Google responded, “This claim was related to events that took place a decade ago and that we addressed at the time. People want to know that they are safe and secure online, which is why for years we’ve focused on building products and infrastructure that respect and protect people’s privacy.”