CCLC jointly intervenes in landmark Supreme Court case to defend data protection rights of children

Published: Wednesday 28th April 2021

Coram Children’s Legal Centre has joined with Liberty and Inclusion London to intervene in a landmark case which will be heard in the Supreme Court today. The interveners seek to ensure that the rights of children and disabled people to seek redress and compensation for data breaches by companies and other bodies that mishandle their personal information are protected.

The case is called Lloyd v Google and is a representative claim brought by Mr Lloyd on behalf of 4.4 million iPhone users. Google have appealed the Court of Appeal’s findings in favour of Mr Lloyd to the Supreme Court.

Coram believes that Google’s interpretation of the Data Protection Act 1998 would have a discriminatory impact on some children.

CCLC and its partners argue that some people, such as young children and some disabled people, might not feel ‘distress’ in the context of a data breach in the same way as other people, but should still be able to obtain justice. These groups may be more at risk of a data breach, or be the targets of people who would misuse their data, so ensuring their data rights are protected is critical.

The charities also argue that it is important for the principle of access to justice that breaches of data rights, which often affect many people, can be challenged through representative actions whereby one or a few members of a class act on behalf of many others, thereby reducing the barriers that might prevent individuals from seeking justice. Allowing people who have all been subject to the same data breach – and who have all lost control of their personal data – to file a representative action (as they can in other Commonwealth jurisdictions such as Canada and Australia), would improve access to justice, the charities argue.

Rosalyn Akar Grams, CCLC’s Head of Legal Practice, said: “In an increasingly digitalised world which creates both opportunities and risks for children, it is vital that their rights are respected, protected and fulfilled.

“Their right to privacy and control over their personal data should be enforceable and where breaches occur, justice must be accessible. As the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child recently concluded collective complaints, including class action and public interest litigation are an important mechanism for securing justice and holding companies and others who control our data to account. The right to compensation should be available to children, regardless of whether they understand the consequences of the breach or experience distress as a result of it.”

The hearing will be heard in the Supreme Court over 28 and 29 April with the outcome expected later this year.

The outcome of this case is likely to have bearing on several other pending cases brought on behalf of children against big tech companies including TikTok and YouTube.