Can money buy privacy? Facebook’s parent company Meta has offered to settle a long-running privacy class action lawsuit in the Northern District of California related to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Reuters reported on Friday – citing a court filing.
The size of the proposed colony has not been disclosed.
Meta has been contacted for comment, but a spokesperson for the tech giant declined to make a statement at this time.
The Reuters news agency reports that the filing filed Friday asked the judge to stay the class action for 60 days until attorneys for the plaintiffs and Facebook finalize a written settlement.
The lawsuit, which has been embroiled in legal wrangling over the discovery for four years, accuses Facebook of illegally sharing user data with disgraced UK data firm Cambridge Analytica.
In 2018, when revelations blew up the tech giant’s stock price, Facebook admitted that the third-party data company could have accessed the data of up to 87 million users (this data set has later revised down to over 50 million).
Cambridge Analytica had planned to use inappropriately obtained Facebook data to create psychographic profiles of voters – and had been hired by former US President Donald Trump’s Trump campaign for the 2016 primaries. It was also accused by whistleblower to continue voter suppression tactics targeting black voters.
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and former COO Sheryl Sandberg were due to testify until 11 a.m. next month, for 6 hours and 5 hours respectively, following their testimony in the Cambridge Analytica trial of the Northern District of California. .
If the “in principle” settlement remains, the pair appear prepared to avoid being questioned in person about their role in the data scandal — at least in this lawsuit. (The District of Columbia has also sought to depose Zuckerberg in a separate Cambridge Analytica privacy dispute.)
In 2018, Zuckerberg was called before Congress to testify about the scandal – which led to many runaway answers simply calling for forensic follow-ups.
But, clearly, Meta would rather spend the money to spare his overlord such scrutiny.
The $5 billion Facebook/Meta settlement later agreed with the FTC, in 2019 – after the regulator considered whether it had breached an earlier confidentiality agreement – was criticized by dissenting commissioners as allowing the giant to social media to pay for the general immunity of its management team. .
Moreover, although Cambridge Analytica has obtained data on Facebook users from many countries other than the United States, Zuckerberg has repeatedly refused to submit to scrutiny of the scandal in international parliaments – accepting only only one abbreviated public session in front of a subset of EU lawmakers that allowed him to select answers (and dodge follow-ups).
In the UK, where the country’s data protection watchdog investigated the scandal after raiding the offices of Cambridge Analytica, Facebook was fined £500,000 – the maximum possible under the applicable law.
Initially he challenged the penalty but later agreed to settle with the UK regulator without admitting liability.
Eyebrows were raised later when it emerged that the terms of the deal prevented the British watchdog from discussing certain elements in public – such as those related to an ‘app audit’ which Facebook had claimed which he would undertake as part of his crisis public relations response to the scandal – to close scrutiny of the tech giant’s actions in the wake of the scandal.