Who? Lesley Hannah, partner, Hausfeld, London.
Why is she in the news? Leading a class action in the High Court alleging that Google-owned YouTube is breaching millions of young people’s privacy and data rights by harvesting the data of children under 13 without obtaining prior parental consent.
Thoughts on the case: ‘Our lives and those of our children are increasingly conducted online. The special data protection rules concerning children’s data are there for a reason, just like banning junk food adverts before the watershed or restricting adverts for gambling or smoking. Technology markets are fast-paced and regulation has been slow to catch up and ensure that consumers are properly protected. Where regulation does exist, cases like this are crucial in ensuring that even corporate giants like Google respect the law.’
A YouTube spokesperson said: ‘We don’t comment on pending litigation. YouTube is not for children under the age of 13. We launched the YouTube Kids app as a dedicated destination for kids and are always working to better protect kids and families on YouTube.’
Dealing with the media: ‘People are very concerned by the way companies like Google are using their data for profit. The media plays a huge role in informing the public about how much data is collected about them and their children from seemingly innocuous activities like watching videos or online shopping. Until people understand this and the implications for their privacy or, even, the price they pay when they purchase something online, companies will be able to hide behind a smokescreen of complex terminology, inaccessible privacy policies and pay lip-service to laws designed to protect consumers.’
Why become a lawyer? ‘I like the challenge and variety – from learning how a pantograph works, to how a search engine ranks its results. Litigation is like a game of chess, you have to have a clear strategy but be able to respond to your opponent’s moves.’
Career high: ‘Successfully presenting complex data, economics and law to over a hundred lawyers and their clients in a multi-party mediation in a long-running cartel damages case. A great outcome in a case that dominated my professional life for years.’
Career low: ‘Being pipped to the post in a judicial review when the European Commission published one of its fastest-ever state aid clearance decisions allowing the UK government’s subsidy of fossil fuel-generated electricity. Subsidising fossil fuel energy generation is unconscionable and will have catastrophic implications for climate change.’