A federal judge in San Francisco ruled on Thursday that Facebook is not subject to a potential collective lawsuit from 29 million users affected by a 2018 data breach. However, the judge ruled the group can seek better security from the social media giant.
United States District Judge William Alsup determined the cost of credit monitoring or any reduced value in information experienced by Facebook users met the threshold of “cognizable injury” that would be necessary to justify a class action. Judge Alsup explains any damage a user claims in efforts to mitigate the damage of the data breach must be addressed on an individual basis.
Alsup determined that Facebook users would be allowed to file a suit against the platform as a group to demand things like improved security monitoring, better training for employees, and education regarding threats posed by hackers.
Facebook made the argument that the bug resulting in the breach was fixed and there was no need for the measures ordered by the judge. However, Judge Alsup rejected this argument. Alsup wrote in his opinion that the long-term need for oversight was created by the repeated loss of user information to third-parties by Facebook.
A class-action suit could have possibly subjected Facebook to a higher payout than the accumulation of individual suits.
Lawyers for Facebook did not have an immediate response to the decision by Judge Alsup. Facebook was also unwilling to talk about the situation.
Facebook explained in the past that the data breach happened on September 28, 2018. Hackers were able to access the accounts of 50 million Facebook users. This constituted the largest data breach in Facebook history.
Two weeks later, Facebook walked back the scope of the cyberattack and said that 30 million users had their personal information compromised. An additional 29 users had information about them revealed like gender, phone numbers, and email addresses.
This is far from the first time Facebook has faced a lawsuit over privacy issues. One of the larger cases involved Facebook allowing a British consulting firm that goes by the name of Cambridge Analytica to access the personal information of 87 million users.
United States District Judge Vince Chhabria ruled in September that Facebook is liable for damage in the Cambridge Analytica case and characterized the approach Facebook takes to the privacy of their users as “so wrong.”
Mark Zuckerberg, the owner of Facebook, provided his thoughts regarding the privacy of those who use social media platforms in a March 6 blog post. In the post, Zuckerberg expressed an understanding that the expectation of privacy is a central theme to user interaction with social media platforms.