Another day, another UK class action against a company for breaching consumer data rights with news that Facebook is being sued for failing to protect users’ personal data in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, even though it has never admitted liability.
The action is being launched by a group called Facebook You Owe Us, and follows a similar case against Google, launched by former Which? director Richard Lloyd, which appears no closer to being settled nearly nearly three years later.
Both groups are being represented by law firm Millberg London; the Lloyd v Google case is being heard again, this time in the Supreme Court, in April next year, following a Court of Appeal ruling in October last year.
The Facebook case will argue that the company allowed app developer Dr Aleksandr Kogan and his company GSR to harvest the data of up to 10 million people in the UK, without their knowledge. By permitting Dr Kogan to take data without users’ consent, the firm failed to meet its legal obligations under the Data Protection Act 1998, the claimants allege.
In October 2018, the UK’s data protection watchdog fined Facebook £500,000 – equating to about 18 minutes of profit for the firm – for its role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. However, the regulator agreed to allow Facebook to say it was not liable for the issue, potentially scuppering any compensation claims.
Some data protection experts said at the time that the ICO simply could not make the allegations stick and found no evidence to suggest that information of Facebook users in the UK was ever shared by Dr Kogan with Cambridge Analytica.
A Facebook spokesperson said: “We have not received any documents regarding this claim. The Information Commissioner’s Office investigation into these issues, which included seizing and interrogating Cambridge Analytica’s servers, found no evidence that any UK or EU users’ data was transferred to Cambridge Analytica.”
But representative claimant in the Facebook case Alvin Carpio appears confident of success. He said: “When we use Facebook, we expect that our personal data is being used responsibly, transparently, and legally. By failing to protect our personal information from abuse, we believe that Facebook broke the law.
“Paying less than 0.01% of your annual revenue in fines – pocket change to Facebook – is clearly a punishment that does not fit the crime. Apologising for breaking the law is simply not enough. Facebook, you owe us honesty, responsibility and redress. We will fight to hold Facebook to account.”
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