Facebook sued for ‘losing control’ of users’ data

Facebook is being sued for “losing control” of the data of about a million users in England and Wales.

The alleged failings were revealed in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, where harvested data was used for advertising during elections.

Journalist Peter Jukes, leading the action, claims his data was compromised.

Facebook told BBC News there was “no evidence” UK or EU users’ data had been transferred to Cambridge Analytica.

But the case against the technology giant, expected to last for at least three years, will argue a “loss of control” over users’ personal data warrants individual compensation.

The harvesting of Facebook users’ personal information by third-party apps was at the centre of the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal, exposed in 2018.

Cambridge Analytica’s app on Facebook had harvested the data of people who interacted with it – and that of friends who had not given consent.

And the case is being represented by law firm Hausfield “on behalf of those Facebook friends”.

Mr Jukes said he wanted to ensure the situation could not arise again.

Peter Jukes
image captionPeter Jukes is leading the action

The action seeks damages from Facebook over failure to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998.

A Facebook spokesman 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 [app developer] Dr [Aleksandr] Kogan to Cambridge Analytica.”

But Mr Jukes told BBC News it was not about “where the data went” but rather “that Facebook didn’t care”.

“They didn’t look after it,” he said.

‘Serious breach’

In October 2018, the UK’s data-protection watchdog fined Facebook its maximum penalty of £500,000 for its role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said Facebook had allowed a “serious breach” of the law.

Facebook apologised and allowed users to check which “banned apps” had accessed their data.

A similar mass legal action was filed against Facebook in October, by the group Facebook You Owe Us, represented by law firm Milberg London.

British consumers

Because of the cases’ similarities, the High Court may decide to merge the two or hold them simultaneously.

Although there is no precedent for such a mass legal action in the UK, there is in the US.

Google agreed to pay a record $22.5m (£16.8m) in a case brought by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on the same issue in 2012.

The company also settled out of court with a small number of British consumers.

Broker Robinhood sued over student trader’s suicide

The family of a 20-year-old stock trader who committed suicide sued the broker Robinhood for his death, citing its “misleading communications” that caused their son to panic over what he wrongly believed were huge market losses, according to a lawsuit.

Robinhood notified Alex Kearns in June of what he thought was a $730,000 loss on a trade, and when he was unable to communicate with anyone at the company, the college student was thrown into a highly distressed mental state, the lawsuit stated.

As a result, fearing he had obligated his family to repay the huge loss, he ran in front of a train and killed himself, according to the lawsuit, filed in California state court.

“We were devastated by Alex Kearns’ death,” said a statement from Robinhood, which added that it was improving its educational materials and more live support staff, among other changes.

Monday’s lawsuit said Robinhood has an obligation to know its customers and ensure their trading strategies are appropriate, but instead the broker preyed on inexperienced investors.

Kearns apparently believed an options trade placed through Robinhood had led to a $730,000 loss, far beyond the possible loss of around $10,000 that he had expected, according to the lawsuit. In reality, the loss was covered by other options in Kearns’ account, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit comes amid growing scrutiny of Robinhood’s commission-free trading and seeks unspecified damages.

The app helped fuel a wild rally in shares of video game retailer GameStop Corp and other companies out of favor with Wall Street hedge funds in what has been touted as a revolution in retail trading.

However, Robinhood restricted trading in the most volatile stocks on Jan. 28, a move it said was done to meet capital requirements, sparking outcry among users and demands for its executives to testify before Congress.

Italy consumer association sues Apple for planned iPhone obsolescence

Italian consumer association Altroconsumo said on Monday it had told Apple it has launched a class action against the U.S. tech giant for the practice of planned obsolescence.

In a statement Altroconsumo said it was asking for damages of 60 million euros ($73 million) on behalf of Italian consumers tricked by the practice which had also been recognised by Italian authorities.

Altroconsumo said the lawsuit covers owners of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, 6S and 6S Plus, sales of which in Italy totalled some 1 million phones between 2014 and 2020.

Apple said in an email that it had never done anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades.

Two similar lawsuits against Apple have been filed in Belgium and Spain for the planned obsolescence of iPhones.

European consumer association Euroconsumers, which is coordinating the three lawsuits, said it was also planning to launch a class action in Portugal in the coming weeks.

By: Kwamed2k