Facebook parent Meta seeks to block £3bn UK collective legal action claiming company abusively profited from users’ personal data
Facebook parent Meta on Monday sought to block the certification of a £3 billion collective lawsuit against it filed at the UK’s Competition Appeal Tribunal, amidst a sharp rise in such cases over the past two years.
The case, brought by legal academic Liza Lovdahl Gormsen, argues Meta abused its dominant market position to gain profits from users’ personal data.
She is seeking compensation to users from Meta based on the economic value they would have received for their data if Facebook were not dominant in social networks.
Meta said the case was “entirely without merit” and the claimed losses didn’t take into account the “economic value” provided by Facebook.
The firm said the case should not be allowed to proceed.
The move came after lawyers for Lovdahl Gormsen on Monday asked the tribunal to certify the case under the UK’s rules for collective proceedings, comparable to those in the US for class actions.
Lovdahl Gormsen attorney Ronit Kreisberger told the tribunal that Meta’s data practices “violate the prohibition on abusive conduct by dominant firms”, Reuters reported.
“There is unquestionably a case for Meta to answer at trial,” Kreisberger said.
Meta’s lawyers argued the action wrongly assumes that any “excess profits” represent a financial loss suffered by individual Facebook users.
‘Significant economic value’
This formulation “takes no account whatsoever of the significant economic value of the service provided by Facebook”, stated Meta attorney Marie Demetriou in court documents.
She said Lovdahl Gormsen’s estimate that potential claimants’ total losses amounted to £3bn was “at the very least wildly inflated”.
Research published earlier this month found collective actions in the UK had risen from £4bn in 2021 to £26bn in 2022 due to a legal change allowing individuals to sue on behalf of potentially huge numbers of claimants without their express mandate or knowledge, unless they expressly opt out.
Ten of the 14 collective actions filed over the past two years in the UK were against tech multinationals, including Apple, Google and Sony.