A Toronto resident is suing Facebook for $500,000 in relation to the Cambridge Analytica privacy breach.
Alfonzo Mattucci has filed a suit against Facebook Inc., Facebook Canada. and Cambridge Analytica, claiming he has experienced hundreds of unwarranted calls and emails since the breach.
In a release from Diamond and Diamond, the law firm retained by Mettucci, he claims to have received two notifications from Facebook in April, notifying him that on a couple occasions his “personal information had been improperly accessed and shared with Cambridge Analytica without his consent or knowledge.”
“This is an unprecedented lawsuit that seeks to answer the question, how much is our private data worth.”
Mattucci claims to have received and continues to receive anywhere from 10 to 20 unsolicited calls and emails every day. He said that these ‘irritants’ started right around the time of the data breach and feels there is a pretty clear connection.
These calls and emails, said his lawyer Darryl Singer, have exacerbated already existing anxiety issues. “[His anxiety] is a result of knowing his information is out there, receiving dozens and dozens of these unwanted calls and emails and not knowing who has his info or how it’s going to be used.”
[UPDATE: On Oct. 25, the U.K. information commissioner fined Facebook the equivalent of $840,000 under its old Data Protection Act for allowing Cambridge Analytica to improperly gather and misuse data.]
Singer told IT World Canada that this has caused his client significant pain and grief as well as a loss of quality of life. Mattucci is receiving psychological treatment and has had to increase his medications since the whole experience began.
Facebook dealing with numerous lawsuits
Facebook has been facing a number of lawsuits since the news broke that U.K.-based Cambridge Analytica had harvested the personal data of 87 million Facebook users in the lead up to the 2016 U.S. election.
A Canadian class-action lawsuit was filed against the social media company in May by Siskinds LLP, on behalf of 622,161 Canadians who have been impacted by the breach. The lawsuit is targeted directly towards Facebook and does not include Cambridge Analytica, (which shut down earlier this year).
Singer said it was an increase in the unsolicited calls and emails along with hearing about the class action, that led to Mattucci’s decision to bring a personal lawsuit against Facebook and the U.K. firm.
The current class action is seeking a settlement of $62,216,100 which amounts to about $100 per person.
In a class action lawsuit the, ‘class members’ have the option to opt-out, giving them the opportunity to pursue their own individual settlement, an option they wouldn’t otherwise have if they chose to stay in the class action.
Mattucci’s lawyer said that amount of money would not cover the expenses that his client has and continues to incur as a result of the breach.
“What my client is saying by opting out, is that he has direct out of pocket expenses and he’s entitled to a significant amount of money, more than he would get in the class action.”
Singer said that Facebook has reached out to them asking for an extension of time in order to file its defence statement. When contacted directly by IT World Canada, Facebook said it does not want to comment on this specific suit at this time.
In March, Paul Grewal, Facebook’s vice-president and deputy general counsel, released a statement saying, “We are committed to vigorously enforcing our policies to protect people’s information. We will take whatever steps are required to see that this happens.”
That statement also said that claims of a data breach were false and “people knowingly provided their information, no systems were infiltrated, and no passwords or sensitive pieces of information were stolen or hacked.”
Since the Cambridge Analytica news broke in March, Facebook continues to face lawsuits from people impacted, in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K.
“While this seems like a novel case today, in this age of companies storing treasure troves of personal data, I expect to see many more of these lawsuits in the future,” said Singer.