Meta faces lawsuit to stop ‘surveillance advertising’ • The Register

A lawsuit filed in the High Court of England and Wales demands that Meta’s Facebook social media platform stop collecting personal data for advertising and marketing purposes.

The lawsuit was filed by technology and human rights activist Tanya O’Carroll, who said it amounts to “surveillance advertising,” with her legal team claiming, “Meta has repeatedly denied … O’Carroll’s absolute right to oppose surveillance.” , to respect and profile” when she tried to object to the processing of her personal data by Meta for marketing purposes.

At the heart of O’Carroll’s complaint are allegations that Meta is doing so in breach of data protection law – the UK’s GDPR – with her legal representatives at AWO saying that internet users have had a ‘right to object’ since the GDPR was introduced in the UK in 2018 (see below). O’Carroll is a senior fellow at Foxglove, the same legal campaign group protesting the government’s extraction of UK hospital records without patient consent into US tech company Palantir’s systems.

The details of the claim [PDF] also detailed what the lawsuit called “significant information asymmetry between the plaintiff and Meta” in relation to the “types of personal data that Meta collects” and “the processing activities that Meta performs on that personal data for the purposes of Direct’s selection and delivery.” , characterizes marketing material for users of Facebook.”

Lawyer Ravi Naik, Legal Director at data rights agency AWO, said: “Meta is trying to concoct legal arguments to deny our client that right in the first place. But Tanya’s claim is straightforward; hopefully it will breathe life back into the rights we are all guaranteed under the GDPR.”

The news comes weeks after a Washington judge fined Meta $24.6 million for intentional breakage [PDF] the state’s campaign finance transparency laws 822 times.


The UK has still implemented the GDPR via the Data Protection Act (DPA) 2018. It first incorporated the law when the UK was a member state and amended it on 1 January 2021 to read alongside the new “UK GDPR” rather than the EU GDPR.

The UK GDPR is almost word for word the same text, and that is expedient as any significant departure from the EU GDPR could affect adequacy decisions for post-Brexit data sharing.

The country’s proposed replacement for Britain’s GDPR – the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill (DPDIB) – is still in Parliament after the Conservative-led government said it was “limiting the potential of our businesses”, which Digital Secretary Michelle Donelan said promised to cut data protection “bureaucracy” for the “new independent nation free from EU bureaucracy”.

In a statement, O’Carroll said: “While the case is being brought by a single data subject in the UK against Facebook, a win could set a precedent for millions of search engine or social media users in the UK and EU who have done so forced to accept invasive surveillance and profiling to leverage digital platforms.”

Meta tells The registry: “Protecting the privacy and security of people’s data is fundamental to the way our business operates. That’s why we’ve invested heavily in features like Privacy Audit and Ad Preferences, which provide more transparency and control so people can understand and manage their privacy preferences.”

Earlier this month, Meta said it would lay off more than 11,000 employees after the dramatic drop in profits and subsequent stock price plunge in late October.

As some commenters have noted, the lawsuit goes to the heart of Facebook’s business model, and if there’s anything worse than dumping billions of dollars into an unprofitable metaverse, it’s the demonetization of some of the data that’s driving current ad sales, ie is this a look. ® Meta faces lawsuit to stop ‘surveillance advertising’ • The Register

Rick Schindler

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