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The Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) and Celebrities’ Privacy

In the recent case of Max Mosley v Google Inc and Google UK [2015] EWHC 59 (QB), the High Court ruled that the celebrity had a viable claim against the Internet search engine giant for breaches of the Data Protection Act 1998 (“DPA”) and misuse of his private information.

The Court found that Google failed in blocking images of Mr Mosley at a sex party and the redirection to websites (via host links) containing Max Mosley’s personal data. Google contested Mosley’s claims and argued that placing filters on searches could amount to censorship of the web. However, Mr Mosley urged, “Google should operate within the law rather than according to rules it makes itself. It cannot be allowed to ignore judgements in our courts”. Consequently, the Court held that Google was permitted to block such content, but failed to do so and was therefore in breach of Section 10 DPA 1998.

The DPA 1998 refers to the “right to prevent processing” and Google was seen to breach this by failing to comply with a notice to stop processing personal data, which in the process caused or was likely to cause, substantial and unwarranted damage or distress.

The Court’s judgement in this case can be seen as a landmark decision, potentially allowing celebrities to use the DPA as a shield against the media from accessing their personal lives.

For further information, please contact Dominic Green on 020 7227 7411 or

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