A privacy claim against internet giant Google is set to be heard in English courts after a High Court ruling against its claim that the case should be heard in the US.
In Judith Vidal-Hall, Robert Hann and Mark Bradshaw v Google Inc, Mr Justice Tugendhat ruled today that there was a serious issue to be tried over claims of misuse of private information, and that an English court was the appropriate forum.
The three claimants allege that between 2011 and 2012 Google misused their private information, acted in breach of confidence and contravened the Data Protection Act by tracking and collating information about their internet usage via the Safari web browser.
The claim concerns the so-called DoubleClick ID Cookie which by default obtained and collated information including internet surfing habits, interests, as well as personal information relating to racial or ethnic origin, trade union membership; health, age, sexuality and geographical location.
Google Inc is registered in Delaware and conducts most of its business in California. Under the civil procedure rules, the claimants last year sought the court’s permission to serve a claim form in Mountain View, California, for hearing in England and Wales.
Google argued that the issues at trial were likely to focus on the conduct of Google Inc and that the relevant documents are likely to be in California.
However, Tugendhat said the focus of attention is likely to be on the damage that each claimant claims to have suffered. 'They are individuals resident here, for whom bringing proceedings in the US would be likely to be very burdensome', he said.
'If an American court had to resolve these issues no doubt it could do so, aided by expert evidence on English law. But that would be costly for all parties, and it would be better for all parties that the issues of English law be resolved by an English court, with the usual right of appeal, which would not be available if the issues were resolved by an American court deciding English law as a question of fact.'
Google said that it would appeal.