Facebook itself is under a lot of scrutiny thanks to the Cambridge Analytica data harvesting, with pretty much all eyes across the world pointed in its direction. It has a lot to make up for, as CEO Zuckerberg stated once again in front of US Congress, but first it might have another issue on its hands. Lawyers throughout the United States and the United Kingdom are attempting to take both companies to court in a class-action lawsuit over the misuse of user data.
While Cambridge Analytica is the most publicised culprit in abusing Facebook’s older data policies, the lawsuit also drags SCL Group Limited and Global Science Research Limited (GSR) into the mix for similarly harvesting data without regulation.
The lawsuit gives Facebook some breathing room by accepting that the initial fault might have been due to the naivety of the company, however it also lambasts the platform for its poor response to subsequently protect the data of over 70 million US citizens and at least 1 million in the UK.
This data was allegedly used in campaigns across the US 2016 presidential elections and in the UK’s British EU referendum. Cambridge Analytica, however, has maintained that it never used the data in any political context despite ex-director Steve Bannon leading the charge in 2014 when the data was collected, before serving as Donald Trump’s campaign and White House adviser.
Moreover, it argued that it only had access to 30 million US citizens that were all legally obtained via the use of application policies back in 2014.
Cambridge Analytica has yet to address the class-action lawsuit, however Facebook has stated that it is “committed to vigorously enforcing our policies to protect people's information” and “will take whatever steps are required to see that this happens.”
Overall, the main purpose of the lawsuit is “to ensure that Facebook's users are not injured by similar shenanigans again,” however it is also seeking damages to be awarded to the plaintiffs. Considering this has been brought under the US Stored Communications Act, this could see a minimum of $1,000 (approximately £700) for each and every violation, with all affected members counting as individual violations.
“The defendants effectively abused the human right to privacy of ordinary Facebook users and, if that were not enough, then the fruits of that abuse are alleged to have undermined the democratic process,” states the UK arm of the lawsuit, led by McCue and Partners’ Jason McCue. “This case will go some way to ensure that neither of these things can happen in the future.”
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KitGuru Says: With Facebook essentially performing as much damage control as necessary, it certainly seems that the company is trying to make amends. Especially thanks to a potential excess of $70 billion in damages, that is. At the very least, data privacy has tightened on other sites meaning that internet users are seeing a positive result of this whole thing after all.