The UK High Court recently denied an application brought by Google to dismiss a claim brought by a complainant, alleging Google's misuse of private information in publishing such information, by directing searches to website addresses displaying images depicting the complainant in sexual encounters. The complainant is seeking damages and injunction against Google under the UK Data Protection Act (DPA).
The Court observed that the complainant has a viable claim which raises questions of general public interest which ought to proceed to trial. The Court further noted that under section 10 of the DPA, which provides the right to prevent processing of data likely to cause damage or distress, if the claimant proves that he has suffered substantial unwarranted damage or distress as a result of the processing of his personal data by Google, and Google does not advance any reason for stating that the notice is unjustified, then the claimant is entitled to ask the court to order Google to take such steps as it thinks fit to comply with the notice and the court is entitled to order accordingly.
The UK Court ruling reflects the approach adopted by the European Court of Justice, in its decision on 13 May 2014, which recognized Google as a data controller, thereby subjecting Google, inter alia, to the duty to prevent processing which is likely to cause damage or distress.