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December 21, 2012 | Peter Bradwell

Court of Appeal allows Golden Eye appeal

This morning the Court of Appeal handed down their judgment in the appeal by the firm Golden Eye. The Court allowed the appeal. We have made a pdf of the judgment available, and an online copy is available at the Bailii website. 

Golden Eye were challenging the High Court's refusal to grant them a "Norwich Pharmacal Order" that would require Telefonica UK to hand over personal details relating to about 6,000 IP addresses.

Open Rights Group intervened in the case on behalf of the Internet users potentially affected by the Order. We were able to do so because of the extraordinary generosity of the supporters who donated to our appeal. 

Here is more information on the original hearing, from Consumer Focus (who intervened at that stage). And here is more background on Open Rights Group's intervention in the Golden Eye appeal.

We are of course disappointed with the decision, and we're sorry to those who donated and thus enabled us to make this intervention that we can't bring you better news. We are extremely grateful for your help.

We will be studying the judgment carefully and then we'll consider properly the implications before deciding how to proceed. 

We are concerned that such a decision effectively means that someone who themselves has no interest in a claim can acquire personal details to obtain large sums of money. In this case Golden Eye are not a firm of solicitors, and thus are not regulated in the same way solicitors are.

However, despite the judgment this was an extremely important intervention. We are pleased that we have made sure the issues raised by applications such as this were closely examined by the Court.

These requests potentially involve large amounts of personal information. Without our intervention, and the excellent work of Consumer Focus earlier in the case, the application would have been something of a formality.

The companies who hold the information, such as Telefonica UK in this case, usually do not contest these applications. That means it is left to us to defend the interests of their users in court. In future it will be much harder for people to run the sort of 'speculative invoicing' campaigns we have seen in the past. That's down to the interventions made in this case.

This is the first of what we hope will be a number of legal interventions, through which we hope to promote the rights of Internet users in the courts. That's why we're so delighted to have achieved our fundraising targets and can recruit a legal officer to manage our legal work.

A big thank you once again to all those who helped us intervene in the case with such generous donations. 

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