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Federal Judge Green-Lights Facebook Privacy Lawsuit

Facebook privacy

A federal judge has ruled that a class-action suit against Facebook can proceed.

The lawsuit covers Facebook users in the United States and the United Kingdom who are seeking damages from the company for allowing third parties such as Cambridge Analytica to access their private data. While some claims were dismissed, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco said users could proceed with trying to prove that the social media giant allowed app developers and business partners to harvest their personal data without their consent on a “widespread” basis.

In addition, he rejected Facebook’s argument that the users were not subjected to any “tangible” harm and had no legitimate privacy interest in information shared on social media.

“Facebook’s motion to dismiss is littered with assumptions about the degree to which social media users can reasonably expect their personal information and communications to remain private,” Chhabria wrote, according to Reuters. “Facebook’s view is so wrong.”

Lesley Weaver and Derek Loeser, two of the plaintiffs’ lawyers, said in a joint statement that they were “especially gratified that the court is respecting Facebook users’ right to privacy.”

The 414-page complaint outlined how Facebook allegedly misled users into thinking they could control their personal data, while the company allowed thousands of “preferred” outsiders such as Airbnb, Lyft and Netflix access to the information.

Chhabria called Facebook's views on privacy “so wrong," adding that the company treated privacy as an “all-or-nothing” proposition, where users would forfeit their privacy by sharing even a small amount of data.

“Sharing information with your social media friends does not categorically eliminate your privacy interest in that information," he wrote.

A Facebook spokeswoman said the company believed that protecting users' information and privacy “extremely important,” but believed its practices were consistent with its disclosures and “do not support any legal claims.”

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