The Organization of Consumers and Users (OCU) has filed a lawsuit against Facebook before the courts of First Instance of Madrid on Thursday. The association accuses the technology of unfair competition, of violating the data protection law and the general law for the defense of consumers. The lawsuit has been presented on behalf of all Spanish users, more than 20 million people, and not only of the users affected by the leak that was known at the beginning of the year, since the organization considers that the data of all of them have been collected and exchanged by the social network without their express permission.
Facebook was at the epicenter of a storm when it came to light that the Cambridge Analytica consultancy had access to the accounts of millions of users of the social network without them knowing and having given their prior consent. The data leak affected almost 90 million users and forced the CEO of the Menlo Park-based company, Mark Zuckerberg, to appear before the US Congress and Senate and the European Parliament in Brussels to explain the happened. Then the manager intoned a mea culpa and assured then that the company was developing new tools to be able to identify the false accounts and to reinforce the protection of the internauts to avoid that they returned to take place similar situations.
The general law for the defense of consumers grants to the associations that defend the rights of this group the possibility of presenting a demand on their behalf as defenders of diffuse interests. The OCU believes that those affected are not only Facebook users who were victims of data leakage – some 140,000 in Spain. It includes all those who have a profile in the social network because they form part, without their consent, of a business model based on the collection and use of personal data without having been expressly informed in advance.
The OCU clarifies that it has been forced to present this demand since the social network has never pronounced in favor of a compensation of the users affected by the leaks, although Zuckerberg has acknowledged that their data have been shared incorrectly. The Spanish consumer association, together with other European organizations gathered in the Euroconsumers group -Deco-Proteste in Portugal, Altroconsumo in Italy and Test-Achats in Belgium- had already sent a warning to Facebook on behalf of the users it represents.
The OCU has requested a compensation of 200 euros for each user, as soon as he believes that damage has occurred. This calculation, he explains, has been made based on the possible business that Facebook may have generated with the data of all users without their consent. It is however the judge who ultimately has to calculate the amount an eventual compensation.
It is not the first time that the OCU appears before the courts on behalf of consumers, a simpler tool to manage than collective demands. He also did it with the expenses of formalizing the mortgages. Then he had to get to the Supreme Court and wait five years to get a verdict. The organization confirms that in this case they will also arrive where they are needed in the judicial battle.