Cookies on Safari? English High Court to hear privacy case against Google Inc
Published 3 February 2014
The High Court ruled on 16 January 2014 that three individuals resident in England may bring a claim against Google Inc in the English courts for misuse of their private information, and breach of the Data Protection Act 1998 ("DPA") arising from Google's use of the Double Click cookie to target marketing to web users. In deciding whether their claim could be heard in the English courts, the High Court's judgment provides interesting reading for privacy professionals across the UK in its discussion on whether there was an arguable case to be heard.
Significantly, it recognises a tort of "misuse of private information" as a separate cause of action from breach of the DPA and breach of confidence. It also opens up the potential for claims for breaches of privacy (whether under this tort or the DPA) to be brought for distress alone without having to first prove a financial loss. Currently very few civil claims are brought in the UK because it is very difficult to show any financial loss resulting from a privacy breach and therefore advance a claim. If found in the claimants' favour, this case could open the floodgates for breach of privacy claims in the UK.