Localogy Quick Takes: Google Scores Small Win in the U.K.

Google continues to get itself in hot water, along with other tech giants increasingly seated in front of legislative bodies. But this time, proceedings took place with the U.K. Supreme Court in a data protection case called Lloyd v. Google. Beyond data use, the legitimacy of class action in such cases was on trial.

What’s the outcome? James Ward breaks it down in the latest Localogy Quick Takes.  And to give you the option of reading or watching, below is the transcript along with the embedded episode video. Enjoy and stay tuned for future Quick-take musings from Ward.

You may or may not have seen earlier this month that a ruling came from the supreme court in the UK in a case called Lloyd’s versus Google. The case was about a class action, which is a group of people moving together effectively as one plaintiff against one defendant or sometimes more than one in order to get claims settled that otherwise would be impossible to do either because they’re too small or the amount controversy is not enough.

It’s a powerful tool for holding to account and sometimes suing large-scale actors. Now they don’t come much larger than google and luckily for google in this case, the supreme court of the uk concluded that class actions can’t proceed in cases around data where there’s no evidence of actual harm or damage to an individual.

What this means is in order to be able to bring a class action claim, each individual person who’s a part of the class would need to be able to show that they suffered some kind of financial harm [or] some kind of psychological harm – very similar to cases and products liability where if you’re a member of a class and you’re suing let’s say a car manufacturer, you would need to be able to show that not only did you own one of the cars that was in question but also that it harmed you in some way or that you lost value.

This is an important case because it kind of diverges from the rule in the U.S where the Supreme Court has given much more leeway for claims about data breaches and harms, without direct showing of injury to individuals in certain instances. And it’s a surprise because usually the U.S. Supreme Court is less favorable to class action claims than the UK Supreme Court.

So it was a big win for Google but they shouldn’t break out the champagne just yet because the case was decided under the predecessor law to the GDPR [which is] the data protection directive enacted in 1998. GDPR is, as we all know, quite different and has different regard for the rights of individual data subjects. So it’s entirely possible that a case alleging individual harm in a data breach or data usage case like Lloyd might make it through under GDPR, or its analog in the UK data protection act of 2018.

We’ll just have to see but at least for now, you’re beginning to see an interesting divide between the way the courts in the U.S. and the courts in the U.K. think about cases involving data. And that’s information that you should always incorporate into the way that you think about your own data.

For more, see the Quick Takes episode in full below…

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