data mining

American and British lawyers sue Facebook, Cambridge Analytica over data breach

They alleged that the data analytics company obtained users’ private information to develop ‘political propaganda campaigns’ in the two countries.

Lawyers in the United Kingdom and the United States have launched a joint class lawsuit against Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and two other companies for allegedly misusing the personal data of 87 million Facebook users, The Guardian reported.

The lawyers alleged that the British data analytics company obtained users’ private information to develop “political propaganda campaigns” in the two countries. Cambridge Analytica reportedly used the data it had collected to bolster US President Donald Trump’s campaign for the 2016 presidential election. It might have also used it in political campaigns ahead of Britain’s European Union referendum.

“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,” said Jason McCue of the London-based McCue and Partners, which is leading the proceedings in the UK. “This case will go some way to ensure that neither of these things can happen in the future.”

Robert Ruyak, the co-lead counsel in the lawsuit in the US, accused Facebook of failing in its duty to secure the personal information of its users and taking appropriate action against those who had misused the data.

American law firm Hagens Berman has also filed a class suit against the social media company, accusing it of violating privacy and consumer-protection laws, Business Wire reported.

“Facebook has repeatedly failed to uphold its own privacy agreements and policies, and it has brazenly neglected the data security of the billions of those who use its social media service,” said Steve Berman, the law firm’s managing partner. “Instead of choosing to be vigilant, making appropriate investments in data security and stopping this massive harvesting of users’ information by third parties, Facebook stood by as the private information of millions was funnelled into the hands of bad actors.”

The lawsuit was filed on Monday in the US District Court in northern California and seeks to represent all American users who were affected by the data breach. Three users of Facebook’s Messenger application sued the company in California last month, accusing it of violating their privacy by collecting logs of their phone calls and text messages.

The social media company’s founder Mark Zuckerberg has admitted to the United States Congress that the company did not do enough to prevent misuse of data. The US Congress will question him over the next two days about how user data was compromised, and how ads and posts were placed by Russian operatives before the 2016 election.

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