Meta faces $3.1 bn lawsuit in UK over exploiting users’ data

London, Jan 14 (IANS) Meta (formerly Facebook) is facing a $3.1 billion class-action lawsuit in the UK over allegedly abusing its market dominance and if the lawsuit succeeds nearly 44 million British Facebook users could receive a $68 payout each.

Competition law expert Dr Liza Lovdahl Gormsen has brought the class-action lawsuit against Facebook’s parent firm Meta at the UK’s Competition Appeal Tribunal, Daily Mail reported on Thursday.

The lawsuit claims that Facebook should pay its 44 million UK users compensation for the exploitation of their data between 2015 and 2019.

“It is claimed this allowed the firm to generate billions in revenues from their data, while users received no monetary returns, which the claim labels an ‘unfair deal’, said the report.

The lawsuit alleged that Facebook made billions by “imposing unfair terms and conditions that demanded consumers surrender valuable personal data to access the network”.

“In the 17 years since it was created, Facebook became the sole social network in the UK where you could be sure to connect with friends and family in one place,” Gormsen said in a statement.

“Yet, there was a dark side to Facebook; it abused its market dominance to impose unfair terms and conditions on ordinary Britons giving it the power to exploit their personal data. I’m launching this case to secure billions of pounds of damages for the 44 million Britons who had their data exploited by Facebook,” she elaborated.

Dr Gormsen is a Senior Research Fellow at the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL) and the director of the Competition Law Forum.

The lawsuit claimed that Facebook was able to impose terms and conditions on UK users which enabled this data gathering because of its market dominance.

The claim is being brought in London under the Consumer Act 2015.

Reacting to the lawsuit, a Meta spokesperson said that people 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 whom. We have invested heavily to create tools that allow them to do so,” the company spokesperson added.

The UK case came after Facebook lost an attempt this week to strike out an antitrust lawsuit in the US by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

US competition watchdog FTC can proceed with a breakup lawsuit against Facebook’s owner, a federal judge ruled. – IANS

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