UK court rejects class-action lawsuit against Google’s DeepMind for misuse of health data

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Google has won another UK class-action-style privacy lawsuit after a London court dismissed the suit. A lawsuit was filed last year Against the tech giant and its AI division DeepMind, which sought compensation for the misuse of NHS patients’ medical records.

The decision highlights the obstacles facing class-action style redress claims for privacy breaches in the UK.

The complainant said that since 2015 – nearly 1.6 million of their medical records were transferred to DeepMind – they have tried to represent patients to their detriment by illegally using their confidential medical information. The Google-owned AI company has been deployed by the Royal Independent NHS Trust. The patient’s information is passed To co-develop an app to detect acute kidney injury. The United Kingdom’s data protection regulator later found out The Trust had no legal basis for the proceedings..

as if Judgment Today at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Judge Heather Williams dismissed the case as having no right to bring a representative action, requiring the claim to be based on the general circumstances. Rather than individual circumstances, so knowing that the claim will be rejected.

The plaintiffs attempted to scale this legal wall by seeking “minimum joint damages” for each member of the claimant class—that is, they sought compensation based on the “irreversibly minimal harm” suffered by all members.

But it didn’t even pass that low bar, as the justice identified “many relevant variables” among the members of the class and ruled that there are serious challenges to any attempt to recast the class to establish a valid claim—in short, if that claim is brought as a representative action under common circumstances anyway. A fundamental and inherent difficulty in identifying valid claims for class members.

The law firm representing the claimant, Andrew Prismal, did not respond to a press release when contacted for comment.

A spokesperson for Google DeepMind welcomed the decision: “We are pleased that the court has decided to end these proceedings. As we have argued, this claim is baseless and without merit.

This is not the first time that class-action style privacy damage claims have been brought against Google in the UK Come back in 2021The Supreme Court has blocked another class action brought by a consumer rights activist who claimed that between 2011 and 2012, Google sought to override iPhone users’ privacy settings on Apple’s Safari browser.

An Early test Prismall was left to file a representation claim against Google and DeepMind under UK data protection law following Google’s aforementioned Supreme Court victory. He then re-filed the claim, a common law misappropriation of personal data, only for that case to be dismissed today.

When class action lawsuits were filed in recent years Accused of misuse of children’s information on Tik TokIt was repealed last year following Google’s Supreme Court victory. In this case it was the claimant. reported The decision created a huge amount of legal uncertainty over privacy class actions, which led to costs that litigation funders and insurers were unwilling to bear – meaning parents would have been exposed if they chose to go forward (so they didn’t).

Filing a legal claim for damages as an individual also remains very expensive. Therefore, the lack of a clear (low-risk) way for UK citizens to pursue a class-action style of breach of privacy means that their options for accessing their data are very limited.

In the year In 2017, the UK’s data protection watchdog didn’t even fine an NHS trust for illegally handing over patient records to DeepMind. Nor has the tech giant been ordered to delete patient data. And then Google – in 2021 – to Disable the application, DeepMind has secured deals with several NHS trusts to use software developed using illegally generated personal data. So filing a complaint with the national privacy watchdog in the hope that it will meaningfully sanction violators is not a surefire path to success for Brits either.

It’s a different picture from time to time in the EU, where the 2020 Common Reform Directive comes into effect next month. This law aims to strengthen the rights of users by allowing the citizens of the Union to submit representative actions and file joint lawsuits for violation of their rights.

Add to that, another Changes to EU product liability regulations To make it easier for people to sue for damages caused by software and AI systems, including violations of fundamental rights such as privacy.

The recent judgment of the European Union Court of Justice confirmed that the data protection framework of the Union A claim for damages for breach does not set a limit on damages..

This report has been updated with the details of the Tik Tok case

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