Plaintiff Mathew Lodowski filed the complaint naming Facebook, the data company Cambridge Analytica LLC, New York businessman Robert Leroy Mercer and psychology professor Aleksandr Kogan, of Cambridge, England, as defendants.
According to the complaint, private and personal profile data were taken from Facebook users without their knowledge or consent, “in excess of the authorization granted by Facebook and Facebook users, in violation of the Stored Communications Act,” and Facebook “failed to protect its user data, and … failed to take reasonable measure necessary to retrieve the data … and notify its users … and only spoke publicly on the issue after news stories exposed their negligent behavior.”
Additionally, the complaint alleges that Cambridge Analytic LLC, Kogan and Mercer conspired together to mine Facebook users’ data from the social media site.
Lodowski asserts in the proposed class action that the information taken from people’s Facebook accounts were initially cleared by Facebook because the data would be used for “academic” reasons. However, those data were in fact used for commercial purposes, by Kogan and Cambridge Analytica.
The complaint seeks damages of $1,000 per violation and relief from Kogan and Cambridge Analytica for violating privacy rights, according to court documents.
Those data "allowed the company to exploit the private social media activity of a huge swath of the American electorate, developing techniques that underpinned its work on President Trump's campaign in 2016," The Times reported.
Facebook officials have stated that the data in question were properly gathered several years ago by psychology professor Aleksandr Kogan, who said he was using the data for academic purposes.
However, in 2014, Cambridge Analytica was in possession of the data, at the same time the company was working to develop techniques that could be used to influence voters and was later hired by Donald Trump's campaign.