The US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has allowed a class action to proceed against Google relating to the company’s practice of side-stepping “cookie-blockers” on Internet Explorer and Safari’s browsers to track users’ internet activities without their consent. The class action brought a pot pourri of claims against Google. A Court upheld the dismissal of a number of claims, but re-opened the way for the plaintiffs to pursue claims of privacy violation under the California Constitution and California tort law.
The Court ruled that, if the plaintiffs’ factual pleadings are ultimately substantiated, it could be open to a reasonable jury to conclude that there was a “serious invasion of privacy” on the basis that Google deliberately overrode the “cookie-blockers” on Internet Explorer and Safari’s browsers and, at the same time, it held itself out as respecting the “cookie-blockers”. As part of this finding, the Court noted that “Google’s alleged conduct was broad, touching untold millions of internet users; it was surreptitious, surfacing only because of the independent research of Mayer and the Wall Street Journal; and it was of indefinite duration …“.
Link (US Court of Appeals, Third Circuit): In re: Google Cookie Placement Consumer Privacy Litigation
French privacy regulator, CNIL, has rejected Google’s informal appeal against its ruling (as reported previously) that individuals’ right to have posts removed extends to Google’s websites worldwide, including Google.com (and not just Google’s European websites such as Google.de or Google.fr). In doing so CNIL stressed that, contrary to suggestions by Google, this would not amount to applying French law extraterritorially. Instead, CNIL characterised the decision simply as “[requesting] full observance of European legislation by non European players offering their services in Europe”.
Link (CNIL): CNIL Decision
The Guardian has revealed that 95% of the “right to be forgotten” requests received by Google up to March 2015 concern private personal information. Less than 5% of the 220,000 “right to be forgotten” requests to Google concern criminals, politicians and high-profile public figures.
Link (The Guardian): Google accidentally reveals data on “right to be forgotten” request
In April 2015, the English Court of Appeal, in Google v Vidal-Hall, held that the Data Protection Act 1998 permits compensation for non-pecuniary loss, such as distress, where privacy rights have been violated. The UK Supreme Court has granted Google permission to appeal in relation to this aspect of the Court of Appeal’s finding.
Link (UKSC): Permission to appeal: Google Inc v Vidal-Hall
French privacy regulator, CNIL, has recently ordered Google to extend individual’s right to have posts removed from its websites worldwide, including Google.com (and not just Google’s European websites such as Google.de or Google.fr). In response, Google said it disagrees with CNIL’s authority to make such an order on the basis that “while the right to be forgotten may now be the law in Europe, it is not the law globally.” CNIL is currently considering Google’s appeal.
Link: BBC: Google defies French regulator’s “right to be forgotten” ruling
The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has issued its first ever “right to be forgotten” enforcement notice against Google Inc. The ICO followed the 2014 European Union Court of Justice’s decision in Google Spain SL, which permits anyone to request the removal of information where that information is inaccurate, inadequate, excessive or, irrelevant. In each case, a number of factors will be relevant including the type of information in question, its sensitivity, the role of the individual in public life, the amount of time which has passed and the interests of the public in having access to the information.
ICO ordered Google Inc to remove several links to new stories about the complainant’s previous criminal offence, which was committed almost ten years ago. Google Inc has not indicated whether it will appeal the decision.
Link: UK ICO issues “Right to be Forgotten” enforcement notice
Link: Google undertaking to ICO