The Lloyd vs Google case had revolved around claims that Google had secretly tracked millions of iPhones through a workaround in Apple’s Safari browser.
The ruling will be a major blow for privacy campaigners, who hoped they would be able use the courts to force Google to pay up to £3 billion in compensation.
In the wake of the case, the government should now look to give people a way to “seek redress against massive data breaches” without having to spend vast amounts on legal fees, said Jim Killock, the executive director of the Open Rights Group.
The High Court had initially ruled that Mr Lloyd could not serve the claim on Google outside the jurisdiction of England and Wales in October 2018, but that decision was overturned by the Court of Appeal in October 2019. Google then challenged that ruling at the Supreme Court and has now won, restoring that original decision.
Google‘s lawyers had argued at the hearing that the landmark ruling could “open the floodgates” to vast claims brought on behalf of millions of people against companies responsible for handling people’s data.
Antony White QC told the Supreme Court that “a number of substantial representative actions have been commenced seeking compensation for breach of data protection rights” since the Court of Appeal’s judgment.
Mr White said allowing such claims to be brought could have “profound and far-reaching implications across all civil litigation”.
He argued that, under data protection laws, “compensation is only available for ‘damage’ suffered as a consequence of the (data) breach, and not for the breach itself”.
Additional reporting by Press Association
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