Google, the global tech titan, has found itself in a legal bind in the Netherlands as it faces class-action-style litigation. The lawsuit accuses the company of breaching European privacy laws by tracking and profiling consumers on a large scale. Furthermore, it demands that Google cease these activities and provide compensation for what it terms “large-scale privacy violations” of the European Union’s data protection regime.
The case is being championed by two not-for-profit organizations: The Foundation for the Protection of Privacy Interests (FPPI) and the Dutch Consumers’ Association. Since May, more than 82,000 consumers have rallied behind the suit. The claimants argue that Google collects users’ online behavior and location data on a massive scale without adequate permission or information dissemination.
The litigation, which is still open for signups, targets Google’s practices from 2012 onwards. Any consumer who has used Google’s products or services after March 1, 2012, and lived in the Netherlands can join the suit. The Netherlands was among the first countries to implement a new EU directive on representative actions that enables entities like consumer rights groups to file collective actions on behalf of consumers.
The lawsuit is an essential development, considering recent changes in EU privacy laws and court rulings. It emphasizes that there’s no threshold for non-material harm to claim compensation for privacy damages. This decision allows claims to be brought for emotional distress resulting from a violation of the bloc’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or other privacy laws. As Google awaits response from its lead regulator for GDPR, Ireland’s Data Protection Commission, the unfolding events are bound to be watched closely by consumers and businesses alike.