Journalist sues Facebook over loss of control of personal data
A claim has been filed against Facebook in the High Court of Justice regarding a loss of control over his and the personal data of around one million other affected Facebook users in England and Wales.
The claim, brought about by journalist and writer Peter Jukes, is a consumer representative action brought on behalf of affected Facebook users who allege Facebook failed to protect their personal data between November 2013 and May 2015.
Between 2013 and 2015, Facebook allowed a third-party app called ‘This is Your Digital Life’ to access the personal information of users who downloaded the app, and the personal information of their Facebook friends.
According to the claim, this was done entirely without their knowledge or consent, and opened that information up to abuse by third parties such as Cambridge Analytica – a firm that was involved in influencing the outcome of elections around the world.
The claim is being brought on behalf of those Facebook friends.
Jukes said: “Facebook profits from its billions of users, who reasonably rely on the platform to protect the personal information they entrust to it. Facebook exploited that trust by making users’ private data available to a third-party app, without their consent or even knowledge. This opened our personal data up to abuse.
“It is only right that we, as consumers, hold Facebook to account for failing to comply with the law and for putting our personal data at risk, to ensure that this is not allowed to happen again.”
The UK Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) described the use of ‘This is Your Digital Life’ as “a very serious data incident”.
The ICO found the third-party app was used by around 300,000 Facebook users worldwide and it has been estimated that the app collected personal data from up to 87 million users globally. Facebook itself estimates that at least one million UK users were affected.
On 25 October 2018, the ICO issued its maximum penalty of £500,000 to Facebook for serious breaches of data protection law.
Peter Jukes is represented by international law firm Hausfeld. Michael Bywell, partner at Hausfeld, said: “Facebook breached its legal obligations to protect the data of its users. The law is clear that Facebook had a duty to safeguard users’ personal information – a duty that it neglected.
“With an experienced team, committed class representative and funding and ATE insurance in place, we believe this claim offers the best avenue of redress for consumers who suffered at the hands of Facebook’s failure to abide by data protection laws.”
A Facebook spokesperson said: “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 by Dr Kogan to Cambridge Analytica.”