English Court of Appeal rules against Google on browsing data

The English Court of Appeal, in Google v Vidal Hall, determined two important issues of law – whether the cause of action for misuse of private information is a tort, and whether a claim for damage can be made under section 13 (compensation) of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) without showing pecuniary loss. The case concerns Google’s collection of information about the browsing habits of Safari users without their knowledge and consent. The Court ruled that misuse of private information should be considered a tort, rather than an equitable claim for breach of confidence. The Court also held that the DPA permits compensation for non-pecuniary loss, such as distress, where privacy rights have been violated. In reaching this conclusion, the Court noted that distress is “often the only real damage caused by a contravention”.

Link: Google v Vidal Hall