Lawsuit Filed on Behalf of U.S. and U.K. Facebook Users Cambridge Analytica, under Steve Bannon’s Leadership, Initially Misled Facebook but Facebook Failed to Act Responsibly to Protect Users
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 10, 2018
CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT FILED AGAINST FACEBOOK AND CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA FOR STEALING AND IMPROPERLY USING MORE THAN 71 MILLION USERS’ DATA
Lawsuit Filed on Behalf of U.S. and U.K. Facebook Users
Cambridge Analytica, under Steve Bannon’s Leadership, Initially Misled Facebook but Facebook Failed to Act Responsibly to Protect Users
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, a class action lawsuit against Facebook, Inc., in the United States Federal District Court in Delaware, was filed on behalf of both American and British Facebook users, alleging the social media company failed to protect the personal information of 70.6 million Facebook users in the U.S. and another more than 1 million in the United Kingdom. The lawsuit was also filed against Cambridge Analytica LLC, SCL Group Limited and Global Science Research Limited, organizations that obtained the Facebook user data to develop and foster political propaganda campaigns. The suit also names Aleksandr Kogan, a founding director of Global Science Research Ltd. Former Trump campaign and White House Advisor Steve Bannon led Cambridge Analytica in 2014 at the time the data was collected and extracted. Rebekah Mercer, a prominent Trump campaign donor, was a member of the board of Cambridge Analytica at the time.
“Facebook utterly failed in its duty and promise to secure the personal information of millions of its users, and, when aware that this stolen information was aimed against its owners, it failed to take appropriate action,” said Robert Ruyak, co-lead counsel in the class action suit. “Facebook must be held responsible for failing to protect its users’ personal information. We must also make certain that organizations like Cambridge Analytica and their benefactors – the Mercer family and Steve Bannon –are held accountable for this egregious theft and misuse and cannot further exploit it.”
“Facebook has made billions of dollars selling advertisements targeted to its customers, and in this instance made millions selling advertisements to political campaigns that developed those very ads on the back of their customers’ own stolen personal information,” said co-lead counsel Richard Fields. “That’s unacceptable, and they must be held accountable.”
“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. This case will go some way to ensure that neither of these things can happen in the future,” said co-counsel Jason McCue, an expert on UK data privacy and human rights law.
The lawsuit alleges that in 2014, Cambridge Analytica, SCL and GSR improperly acquired the personal information of 71.6 million Facebook users, including names, phone numbers, mailing and email addresses, political and religious affiliations, and interests. This was done to accomplish Cambridge Analytica’s driving principle: to build psychological profiles of voters to effect election results in the United States and The United Kingdom.
GSR was granted access by Facebook to collect data solely for academic research. Instead the data was used by Cambridge Analytica and GSR for purely political and commercial purposes. The information was obtained by using a digital application called thisisyourdigitallife, developed by Cambridge University psychologist Aleksandr Kogan. Kogan created a personality quiz that required individuals to use their Facebook login credentials to take the quiz. Approximately 270,000 Facebook users installed the application, and gave their personal information to Kogan and Cambridge Analytica. The design of the application allowed Kogan and Cambridge Analytica to obtain without consent the personal information of more than 71 million Facebook users in the U.S. and U.K. who were Friends of the original 270,000 users. When Facebook first learned of the true nature of Cambridge Analytica’s work in 2015, they failed to notify Facebook users and to ensure that the stolen data was destroyed, which enabled its use through the 2016 U.S. elections and the June 2016 UK “Brexit” Referendum.
The plaintiffs are represented by co-lead counsel Robert Ruyak of RuyakCherian LLP, and Richard Fields of Fields PLLC, both in Washington, D.C., by Jason McCue and Matthew Jury of McCue & Partners LLP in London, and by Christopher P. Simon of Cross & Simon, LLC in Wilmington, Delaware.
The full class action complaint, which was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware, can be found here.