Judge's Ruling In Google Privacy Case Might Also Make It Possible To Sue UK's GCHQ

from the writing-wrongs,-righting-wrongs dept

A couple of weeks ago we reported on an important case where a British judge ruled that Google can be sued in the UK over an alleged breach of privacy. As we pointed out at the time, this could have implications for future cases, but a post by Andres Guadamuz on his Technollama blog notes that this is also big news in the rarefied legal world of torts, a concept which Cornell University's Legal Information Institute explains as follows:

Torts are civil wrongs recognized by law as grounds for a lawsuit. These wrongs result in an injury or harm constituting the basis for a claim by the injured party. While some torts are also crimes punishable with imprisonment, the primary aim of tort law is to provide relief for the damages incurred and deter others from committing the same harms. The injured person may sue for an injunction to prevent the continuation of the tortious conduct or for monetary damages.
As Guadamuz explains:
the judge had to consider whether misuse of private information, breach of confidence and breach of [Data Protection Act] statutory duties amount to a claim in tort.
That's because only then could the judge allow the US company Google to be sued in the UK. After referring to other cases that touched on this question, he concluded that:
"the tort of misuse of private information is a tort" within the meaning of the [Civil Procedure Rules] rules, and therefore it would be possible to serve an injunction to Google outside of the court's jurisdiction.
As Guadamuz comments:
This is a very important ruling for various reasons, but mostly because it seems to finally confirm the existence of the tort of misuse of private information, which had been hinted at in other cases.
Guadamuz concludes his post with an intriguing question that demonstrates how a very dry and abstract matter could well turn out to have extremely important practical consequences:
I wonder if this gives us the scope to now sue GCHQ?
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Reader Comments (rss)

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 5th, 2014 @ 3:32am

    GCHQ didn't misuse private information, because it isn't private information until they look at it, and you can't prove that they looked at it because that's classified state secrets.

    (They don't have to provide a valid reason why the law doesn't apply to them, they just need to provide a reason and make believe that it's valid. Even if they're blatantly lying, they'll still get away with it. Just ask James Clapper.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    account, Feb 5th, 2014 @ 7:10am

    (They don't have to provide a valid reason why the law doesn't apply to them, they just need to provide a reason and make believe that it's valid. Even if they're blatantly lying, they'll still get away with it. Just ask James Clapper.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    account, Feb 5th, 2014 @ 7:26am

    (They don't have to provide a valid reason why the law doesn't apply to them, they just need to provide a reason and make believe that it's valid. Even if they're blatantly lying, they'll still get away with it. Just ask James Clapper.)

    Wrong. As long as they are governmet agency (or private approved by gov) they are on the hook DIRECTLY under Article 8 of ECHR. This IS law of the land in UK, like it or not.

    As a clear-cut case as it gets. They made themselves DOA before they got here. Bosses should be scrambling for escape hatches by now. There is nothing that prevents victims to go ALSO after their personal assets.

    While the judges in UK are mostly apparatchicks of the Establishment, no judge in European Court of Human Rights will risk personal professional susicide for them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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