Olswang v Bristows in Google privacy showdown

Olswang is leading a major online privacy case against Google in the High Court this week, in which the internet giant is arguing for the case to be heard in the US.

The current jurisdiction hearing will decide whether the case should be heard in the UK, but the lawsuit itself involves the privacy of millions of internet users.

Three British claimants, represented by Olswang, argue that Google breached the duty of confidence owed to them by secretly gathering data to sell on to advertisers.

The Olswang team is led by media expert Dan Tench who instructed Matrix’s Hugh Tomlinson QC to lead the case assisted by Lorna Skinner, also of Matrix.

Bristows is acting for Google, with partner Mark Watts instructing Antony White QC also of Matrix, who is leading Catrin Evans of One Brick Court.

According to the Financial Times (FT) on Monday (16 December), Google is able to collect information on myriad areas of users’ personal lives from websites they’ve visited, the way they use the internet and their hobbies to more alarming details such as financial situation and religious and political beliefs.

The newspaper also said that the written arguments stated that millions of people in the UK and around the world are likely to have been affected.

The case follows news in January that Tench was advising a group of Apple users who claimed that Google was secretly tracking their browsing habits between September 2011 and February 2012 (31 January 2013).