Partner story
By Aditi Tripathi , Swee Leng Harris and Emmanuelle Debouverie

TPC: New funding from Luminate towards access to justice for data harms

Luminate is funding the non-profit organisation, The Privacy Collective (TPC) in the Netherlands to support defining litigation that promises to bring justice and redress for violations of people’s data rights and privacy.  

In August 2020, TPC filed a class action lawsuit against data broker giants Oracle and Salesforce. The lawsuit alleges that the companies unlawfully processed and exploited the personal data of Dutch internet users to target them with advertising based on profiling. The class action case was brought under the Netherlands progressive new class action mechanism (WAMCA).

The ongoing litigation by TPC is one of the first substantive mass claims to be considered under WAMCA for privacy rights violations. However, the future of collective access to justice for citizens is at risk. In December 2020 the Amsterdam District Court found that TPC failed to meet the admissibility requirement of ‘representativeness’ under WAMCA because it did not demonstrate sufficient support from the injured class of Dutch internet users.   

TPC has appealed this decision arguing that the court’s interpretation of ‘representativeness’ is too narrow. It argues that setting such a high bar for showing representativeness runs counter to the right to access justice, especially in cases of so-called ‘dispersed’ damages, such as technically complex data breach claims, where the nature of data harms make it difficult for victims to be aware that their data has been processed, exploited, or compromised and by whom.  

If the narrow interpretation of representativeness is upheld, it could become very hard to legally challenge large-scale data rights violations. This could allow commercial actors to get away with profiteering off unsuspecting victims’ data.  It could also go against the spirit of the European Representative Actions Directive, which requires all member states to implement collective redress mechanisms in the form of representative actions before 25 June 2023 to enable European consumers to effectively and adequately enforce their consumer rights. 

The strategic litigation team inside Luminate Strategic Initiatives (LSI) funds organisations (and cases) that challenge unlawful data practices by large technology companies and seek remedies for harms to people and society. Funding TPC is part of that effort to pursue the enforcement of our data and privacy rights.