Facebook sued by UK group over Cambridge Analytica breach

29 Oct 2020

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A group formed on behalf of people in England and Wales is suing Facebook, claiming it failed to protect user data in the Cambridge Analytica breach.

Facebook is facing a lawsuit in the UK over its alleged lack of action in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. According to the BBC, a group called ‘Facebook You Owe Us’ is suing the social network on behalf of almost 1m users in England and Wales affected by the breach.

The scandal, which came to light in 2018, saw data harvested from up to 87m Facebook users worldwide.

The case brought by the group reportedly argues that Facebook did not meet its legal obligation to protect user data under the UK Data Protection Act of 1998. However, a Facebook spokesperson said that it has not received any documents from the group regarding the lawsuit.

“The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) 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 by [Alexsandr] Kogan to Cambridge Analytica,” the spokesperson said.

A similar lawsuit

The group is represented by law firm Millberg London, which also represents a similar group called ‘Google You Owe Us’. This group was formed by former Which? director Richard Lloyd and filed a mass action lawsuit in 2018 against Google, alleging that the search giant wrongfully obtained personal data between 2011 and 2012 by bypassing a security setting on iPhones.

Lloyd’s application to serve notice of the legal action against Google outside the jurisdiction of England and Wales was refused by the UK’s High Court in October 2018. However, following a challenge by Lloyd, three judges at the Court of Appeal concluded the legal action could go ahead.

Last year, the ICO in the UK agreed a settlement with Facebook worth £500,000. The ICO had led a European investigation into the Cambridge Analytica breach and following this settlement, its deputy commissioner James Dipple-Johnstone said Facebook had taken “significant steps to comply with the fundamental principles of data protection”.

“With this strong commitment to protecting people’s personal information and privacy, we expect that Facebook will be able to move forward and learn from the events of this case,” he said.

Brittany Kaiser, the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower who provided testimony and documents to the ICO investigation, is set to speak at Silicon Republic’s Future Human event later today (29 October).

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic