The Times (In Brief) 28th March 2018
Facebook and Cambridge Analytica could be sued by thousands of people in the UK after lawyers confirmed they were planning a group action over controversial data harvesting.
Solicitors said yesterday that they were preparing for a claim and had taken advice from specialist counsel.
“What has emerged so far could just be the tip of the iceberg,” Kingsley Hayes, managing director of the Liverpool claimant law firm Hayes Connor Solicitors, said.
“We could be talking about one of the largest ever group actions of its kind in the UK courts. We have received enquiries from hundreds of concerned Facebook users in the UK already.”
Cambridge Analytica, a British data analytics company, is accused of exploiting data taken from Facebook and using it to help Mr Trump target voter advertising during his 2016 presidential campaign.
Christopher Wylie, a whistleblower and former Cambridge Analytica contractor, told The Observer that the company had used harvested Facebook data to build personality profiles of US voters.
Ian Whitehurst, a barrister at the Liverpool set Exchange Chambers, has been instructed on the potential group action. He has previously advised claimants in relation to potential data breaches by the Ministry of Defence, the Department for Work and Pensions, local authorities and a national broadcaster.
“A group action is undoubtedly the best way forward for data breach claims of this nature,” he said yesterday. “It allows people with the same type of claim in principle to bring it together on a collective basis to strengthen their overall position and increase their chances of settlement or success in litigation.”
Hayes advised Facebook users to take several precautions after the controversy. “Look out for a letter from Facebook,” he said. “The social media giant has promised to inform users if their data was accessed by any apps that might have misused it.
“You should also set out why you think your data has been breached. For example, have you been targeted on Facebook by any political parties or causes that you are not affiliated with?”