Facebook, Cambridge Analytica face yet another lawsuit

The suit, filed on behalf of Facebook users in the US and the UK, alleges the companies misused personal data from more than 71 million people.

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Abrar Al-Heeti is a technology reporter for CNET, with an interest in phones, streaming, internet trends, entertainment, pop culture and digital accessibility. She's also worked for CNET's video, culture and news teams. She graduated with bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Though Illinois is home, she now loves San Francisco -- steep inclines and all.
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Facebook was hit with another lawsuit over data misuse on Tuesday.


Facebook and Cambridge Analytica were hit with another lawsuit, this one filed on behalf of users of the social network from the US and the UK.


Lawyers in the US and the UK filed the suit in the US District Court in Delaware against Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and two other companies. The suit alleges the companies misused personal data from more than 71 million people to develop "political propaganda campaigns" in both countries. 

The lawsuit alleges Facebook failed to protect the personal information -- including  names, phone numbers, email and mail addresses, and political and religious affiliations -- of 70.6 American and 1 million British users of the social network. The data was used in the June 2016 UK "Brexit" Referendum and then during the 2016 US presidential election, the lawsuit says. 

The suit also names SCL Group Limited, Cambridge Analytica's parent company, as well as Global Science Research Limited (GSR), the company that collected the data through a personality quiz app. It also names GSR founder Aleksandr Kogan, a Cambridge University lecturer.

"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, in a statement. "Facebook must be held responsible for failing to protect its users' personal information."

Facebook didn't comment directly on the suit, but reiterated an earlier comment by Paul Grewal, a deputy general counsel, regarding the company's policies.

"We are committed to vigorously enforcing our policies to protect people's information," Grewal said. "We will take whatever steps are required to see that this happens."

The suit comes as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is set to testify before Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday. He's expected to answer questions about the biggest scandal to hit Facebook in its 14-year history and reassure lawmakers, investors, advertisers and users that Facebook can be trusted with personal data.

The personality app, called "thisisyourdigitallife," collected personal information from people's Facebook profiles, as well as those of their friends. Through the app, Kogan was able to collect information from as many as 87 million people's profiles, Facebook says. Kogan reportedly passed along the information to the UK-based political data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica, which was later hired by the Trump presidential campaign. 

The suit names seven individual plaintiffs -- five American and two British -- who are all Facebook users. The suit says this information was used "to accomplish Cambridge Analytica's driving principle: to build psychological profiles of voters to affect election results in the UK and the US," according to the release.

Tuesday's suit, which seeks class action status, comes a day after law firm Hagens Berman filed another lawsuit against Facebook for failing to protect consumer data. That followed a similar case last month alleging Facebook and Cambridge Analytica violated California's unfair competition law. Attorneys on both cases are seeking class action status.

In response to outcry over the misuse of data, Facebook has made changes to its site and launched a tool to let users know if they were affected by the data scandal. The company also announced new privacy settings and a clearer privacy policy, and said it's auditing the apps on its site to so it'll know how data is being collected.

Cambridge Analytica: Everything you need to know about Facebook's data mining scandal.

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