Google to be tried in the UK: High Court upholds British claimants' 'secret tracking' case

The search giant had originally claimed that it should be tried in the US

The High Court has ruled that a group of British users suing Google for breaking privacy laws can do so in the UK.

The search giant had asked in December that the trial be heard in the US, but the High Court has ruled this Thursday that the claimants have “clearly established” that the UK courts are the “appropriate jurisdiction” for the claims.

Google now faces a group action lawsuit by users of Apple’s Safari browser. The claimants, called Safari Users Against Google’ Secret Tracking, allege that the search giant tracked their browsing history online without their knowledge and breached the 1998 Data Protection Act.

"I am satisfied that there is a serious issue to be tried in each of the claimant's claims for misuse of private information," said Justice Tugendhat.

“The issues of English law raised by Google Inc are complicated ones,and […] it would be better for all parties that the issues of English law be resolved by an English court.”

The lawsuit is significant as it could set a precedent for how UK customers can litigate against internet companies based in the US.

Google has promised to fight against the decision with a spokesperson saying: "A case almost identical to this one was dismissed in its entirety three months ago in the US. We still don't think that this case meets the standards required in the UK for it to go to trial, and we'll be appealing today's ruling."

The case in question was brought in Delaware but was struck down after it was ruled that plaintiff could not prove that he had been harmed by a loss of money or property. The British claimants, however, have a stronger case due to the UK's Data Protection Act.

The group of more than 100 claimants allege that Google tracked the websites they visited between the summer of 2011 and spring 2012. This information was then “aggregated and sold to advertisers who used its DoubleClick advertising service."

Justice Tugenhadt noted that the search giant's defence - that the data collection was not private information as it was anonymous - was not legitimate: "[Google] would not collect and collate information unless doing so enabled it to produce something of value," said Tugenhadt.

Allegations of this kind have been a problem for Google in the past, with the search giant paying out a record $22.5 million (£13.8m) in the US in August 2012 after being found guilty of circumventing in-browser security to track users.

When the British case was first made, Judith Vidal-Hall, one of the claimants and a former editor of Index On Censorship, described Google’s approach as “arrogant, immoral and a disgrace”:

“If consumers are based in the UK and English laws are abused, the perpetrator must be held to account here, not in a jurisdiction that might suit them better,” said Mrs Vidal-Hall.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Voices
Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
voicesThokozile Masipa simply had no choice but to jail the athlete
Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

News
i100
Life and Style
The Tinder app has around 10 million users worldwide

techThe original free dating app will remain the same, developers say

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    IT Project Manager

    Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

    Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

    Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

    IT Manager

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

    Day In a Page

    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Let's talk about loss

    We need to talk about loss

    Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album