Separate Legal Challenges for Internet Giants
While Democratic senators pile pressure on Facebook, over its association with never-out-of-the-news data firm Cambridge Analytica, Google is dealing with renewed flak from its historical scanning of users' emails for marketing purposes.
As reported in www.mediapost.com , US law firm Gallo LLP last week announced ten lawsuits from its clients seeking individual damages for Google's scanning of their emails - in this case people who 'never signed up for Gmail but had their email scanned anyway'. The cases are on file with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, and could be the first of many, with damages totalling up to $5,000 per violation, for millions of potential class members, according to Senior Partner Ray E. Gallo. Google announced last June that it would stop scanning email content for ad targeting purposes.
Facebook's latest privacy problems centre around data provided by users of a personality quiz app, thisisyourdigitallife, created by Global Science Research and downloaded by around 270,000 people. Where users' privacy settings allowed, the app was reportedly able to gather data about their Facebook contacts, gleaning information on a total of around 50m individuals which was then available to Cambridge Analytica for political message targeting. The data firm has enjoyed (?) a high profile since reportedly playing a part in Donald Trump's Presidential campaign, and its activity in this case was revealed in reports in the New York Times and the UK's Guardian newspaper in the last few days.
Facebook says it has suspended the accounts of Cambridge Analytica and of the app's author, Aleksandr Kogan of Global Science Research - and accuses the company of failing to delete the data after giving assurances it would do so. However Democratic Senators including Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) and Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) are calling for Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to break his recent habit of deputising appearances at hearings and testify in person to explain the company's role in this.