March 24 (UPI) — A Houston, Texas, businessman filed a class action lawsuit in federal court Friday against Facebook for sharing personal data of nearly 50 million Facebook users with Cambridge Analytica, a company accused of using the information to post targeted political ads for President Donald Trump.
The lawsuit, filed by Matthew Lodowski, also targets Cambridge Analytica for its role in mining the private data. Other defendants include Robert Leroy Mercer, a wealthy New York investor in Cambridge Analytica, and Aleksandr Kogan, a professor at Cambridge University.
The suit aims to collect about $50 billion in damages, based on a federal statute that allows up to $1,000 per violation.
Lodowski is accusing the social media giant of conspiracy and negligence by “failing to protect user data, failing to take reasonable measures to avert problems when it learned the company had obtained users’ personal information without permission and failing to let users know their data had been taken until journalists broke the story.”
The suit also claims a violation of the Stored Communications Act, a law that allows online users to file lawsuits over “intentional access without authorization to a facility through which an electronic communication service is provided.”
The class action includes any U.S. Facebook users whose data was impacted by Cambridge Analytica’s data breach and seeks compensatory damages, restitution and fees, and an injunction against Cambridge Analytica and the professor at Cambridge University named in the suit.
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who said the company is trying to resolve the problem and prevent further issues, said in a statement the company will investigate apps with access to large amounts of user information, further restrict developers’ access to data and place a tool at the top of users’ feeds to show which apps have access to their information.
“We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you,” according to the statement.
“While this specific issue involving Cambridge Analytica should no longer happen with new apps today, that doesn’t change what happened in the past. We will learn from this experience to secure our platform further and make our community safer for everyone going forward.”