All Quebecers who have used the Internet since 2017 can now hope to spit out a few thousand dollars from Google, accused of getting rich on their backs.
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The Superior Court of Quebec has just authorized an action brought by Option consommateurs against the giant – US$76 billion in profit out of US$258 billion in revenue in 2021.
"We have just won a first round against a giant in a very important privacy dispute", proudly launches Alexandre Plourde, lawyer and analyst at Option consommateurs (OC).
The Silicon Valley company is accused of not obtaining enough consent from Internet users when it appropriates their data.
It is also accused of constantly tracking Internet users, whether they are on a Google site or service or elsewhere online. “The accumulation of our data never stops, wherever you are on the Internet”, illustrates the lawyer for OC, who entrusted the firm Belleau Lapointe with the task of representing the organization.
The dispute will revolve around the value of this personal data, which is no small task.
Basically, OC wants the value of personal data to be fully returned to the consumer. The organization is also seeking $50 million in punitive damages.
The judge innovates
For comparison, Google made $200 million in profit per day in 2021.
In his judgment rendered on June 28, Judge Donald Bisson invokes the jurisprudence of the right to the image to found the foundations of the case.
“When someone sees their image used for commercial purposes without their permission, they are not necessarily deprived of the ability to make commercial use of that image themselves,” he writes.
Basically, when we have a car stolen, we no longer have a car, but when we have our data "stolen", we still have an identity, summarizes Alexandre Plourde.
So, it is based on the link with image rights that OC hopes to knock out the Silicon Valley giant K.O.
Any Quebecer who has used the Internet since June 2017 can become a member of the class action by going to the Belleau Lapointe site to register.
And even that, of course, Google will know...