Market researchers risk compensation claims over data breaches

Original article appeared in the Legal section of Research news 14 May 2015 (click link for full article – Market researchers risk compensation claims over data breaches).

A new ruling in the Court of Appeal has clarified a new interpretation on what provides grounds for a compensation claim for data protection breaches. Previously it was only if the breach had caused financial loss would a claim be upheld under the Data Protection Act 1998. Now following a ruling last month, emotional impact, such as anxiety or distress, are now also accepted as grounds for a claim.

In the case Google Inc v Vidal-Hall the claimants’ complaint was how Google collected private information about their internet usage without their knowledge or informed consent due to the “Safari workaround”. Using cookies on their Apple Safari browser meant Google could recognise their specific browser generated information (BGI). By aggregating the data as part of its commercial offering to advertisers, Google revealed private information  – this tracking and collation was contrary to Google’s publicly stated position that such activity could not be conducted for Safari users unless they had expressly allowed it to happen.

John Warchus, partner at commercial and technology law firm, Moore Blatch commented “The decision by the Court of Appeal is consistent with the likely future trend of data protection legislation – the draft EU Data Protection Regulation will mean that someone can seek damages regardless of a financial loss. Market research providers should urgently review their data protection procedures and strengthen where necessary as more compensation claims are likely and the amount of damages awarded is also likely to increase.”