Facebook is facing a class action claim that is being led by the journalist and television writer Peter Jukes on behalf of around a million people for allowing the harvesting of personal data.
Jukes claims that his data was compromised by This Is Your Digital Life (TIYDL), a third-party app, between 2013 and 2015. It has been reported that it harvested data which was passed to Cambridge Analytica. The app was used by 270k people which resulted in the data of 87m being harvested as the users gave permission to access their friend’s profiles who had not given consent.
Damages are being sought from Facebook over failure to comply with its statutory duties in the Data Protection Act 1998. Facebook denies that there was any evidence that any UK users had been transferred to Cambridge Analytica and also that they were misled over how the data was used.
Facebook App that harvested personal data with a personality quiz
The story goes that Russian app developer Aleksandr Kogan created the app TIYDL to harvest the personal data of Facebook users. The app was a personality quiz that not only used the data of the people using the app but also those on their friend list including data that wasn’t shared publicly. The friends whose personal data was harvested neither gave permission nor were they aware this was happening.
This was permitted by Facebook at the time however Facebook claim that Kogan violated the terms of service by handing the personal data over to Cambridge Analytica and subsequently banned both Kogan and Cambridge Analytica in March 2018.
Facebook has already been fined £500k by the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) for what it described as a ‘serious breach’ of the law but this claim could compound their problems after facing greater government scrutiny worldwide for allowing both racist comments and vaccine-related fake news to proliferate.
The class-action claim, which is relatively rare in the UK compared to the US, is being funded by Balance Legal Capital and represented by law firm Hausfeld. Lawyer Michael Bywell says they had “a duty to safeguard users’ personal data” which was neglected.
It is expected that the case will last for at least three years and could result in individual compensation for all those that are represented. In addition, another similar lawsuit by the group Facebook You Owe Us which could result in the cases being merged.
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