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January 27, 2014

Google Can Be Sued In UK Over Privacy Case, Judge Rules


When it comes to one’s privacy, the level of private information about you “out there” is really out-of-your-hands to a great extent. Once you give some information to the likes of Facebook, Google etc, other sites can glean more information about you.
As far as European citizens are concerned the EU’s Data Protection Regulation are currently making their way through the legislative process which is a steady and meaningful progress which is slow but, still moving forward. Great care has to be at the forefront and that means it can’t be something bolted together in a matter of a few weeks.

Then there are the discussions about the NSA’s spying program, and how it impacts on Europeans, and finally, there are various court cases involving US companies and the personal data of EU citizens. One such case is here, in the UK, where The Telegraph reports that an important decision has been handed down:

The High Court ruled on Thursday that Google can be sued by a group of Britons over an alleged breach of privacy, despite the company being based in the US and claiming that the case was not serious enough to fall under British jurisdiction.

Google faced a group action by users of Apple’s Safari browser who were angered by the way their online habits were apparently tracked against their wishes in order to provide targeted advertising. But because Google is based in the US they needed to seek the court’s permission to bring the case in the UK, something which the search company claimed was inappropriate.

That claim has now been thrown out, as Mr Justice Tugendhat, sitting at London’s High Court, ruled that the UK courts were the “appropriate jurisdiction” to try the claims.

Google as other US internet companies believe that being based in the US somehow protects them from legal action in the UK or any European country. For Google to say “the case was not serious enough to fall under British jurisdiction” is at the very least a stupid thing to say and how serious does it have to be? Does Google really think that they can somehow bully the UK legal system into agreeing with them? Well, they shot themselves in the foot, Mr Justice Tugendhat is one judge that they shouldn’t mess with and who really couldn’t care what Google thinks or tries to persuade him to believe.

Google has said it will appeal, it’s too early to tell what the impact the UK court’s decision will be. I can’t see Google’s appeal being upheld. I think it will be allowed to stand, and will create a hugely important precedent for future legal actions against US companies providing services involving the handling of personal data not only here in the UK but in the European Union.

Source: The Telegraph

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Dave Thornton

Senior Editor

Senior Editor
Been involved in technology for many years, more than I care to remember. Live in Dundee, Scotland. I like Android, Windows Phone OS, BlackBerry OS and iOS, and love writing about all things techie. Currently have a Honor 6+, Elephone P6000, Nexus 5, Chrombook C720, HTC One M7, Nokia Lumina 625, Microsoft Lumia 435, Blackberry Q10, HTC Hero and iPad mini