A competition expert has indicated that they intend to bring a class action against Meta (the parent company of Facebook) on behalf of Facebook’s 44 million UK users.
Whilst the details of the class action are not yet clear it seems to relate to Meta’s data collection practices between October 2015 and December 2019. Such data was used by Meta to put together a picture of internet use, which is then used to make large profits.
The group action will be pursued on behalf of anyone living in the UK who has used Facebook at least once during the relevant period unless they specifically choose to opt out of the action.
Dr Lovdahl Gormsen has commented that by doing the above Facebook has:
“abused its market dominance to impose unfair terms and conditions on ordinary Britons, giving it the power to exploit their personal data.”
Meta has strongly refuted the allegations and has commented that:
“[p]eople access our service for free. They choose our services because we deliver value for them and they have meaningful control of what information they share on Meta’s platforms and with who. We have invested heavily to create tools that allow them to do so.”
In November, the Supreme Court rejected a similar claim in which a group action was being pursued against Google on behalf of four million iPhone users. In his judgment, Lord Leggatt commented that:
“[t]he claimant seeks damages…for each individual members of the represented class without attempting to show that any wrongful use was made by Google of personal data relating to that individual or that the individual suffered any material damage or distress as a result of a breach… without proof of these matters, a claim for damages cannot succeed.”
To be successful in the class action against Meta, the Claimant will need to prove the material damage and distress caused to each of Facebook’s 44 million users. A difficult task.
BBC News reports, to try to combat this issue, Dr Lovdahl Gormsen has indicated that she intends to bring this case to the Competition Appeal Tribunal where opt-out cases are specifically permitted.
It will be interesting to see whether or not the Tribunal permits the class action to continue further. If the action is permitted to continue, we are likely to see a rise in similar class actions being pursued in the Competition Appeal Tribunal rather than through the Courts.
How can we help?
Should you be affected by any issues relating to the use of your personal data, please feel free to contact Ruby or another member of the team in Derby, Leicester, or Nottingham on 0800 024 1976 or via our online enquiry form.