British users can sue Google in UK over “secret tracking” – Ars Technica
The UK’s Court of Appeal has confirmed an earlier landmark High Court decision that a group of British consumers using Apple’s Safari browser to access Google’s services can sue the US company in the UK. Google has always argued that the appropriate forum for such cases is in the US, so this sets an important precedent for future legal actions against foreign companies operating in the UK.
The UK Court of Appeal’s ruling clears the way for the group known as “Safari Users Against Google’s Secret Tracking” to proceed with its claim for compensation. The group alleges, “Google deliberately undermined protections on the Safari browser so that they could track users’ internet usage and to provide personally tailored advertising based on the sites previously visited.”
The present ruling from the UK Court of Appeal does not address whether the Safari users should be awarded compensation for the claimed distress, but it does confirm that the appropriate forum for that case is in the UK. That’s crucial, because it means the claimants can use Europe’s stringent data protection laws to support their case. Last year, Google was forced to comply with EU data protection laws in Spain, when the Court of Justice of the European Union, Europe’s highest court, ruled that the company could be required to erase links to certain webpages from its search engine results—the so-called “right to be forgotten.”
There are two practical implications of today’s ruling. First, it just became much easier to sue US companies offering services in the UK, since British consumers no longer have to bring a case in the US. Secondly, Google may now face a substantial class-action from UK Safari users.