SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Three Southern Californians, one of which from San Diego, charged Facebook with being complacent in a data breach spanning about 87 million users.
In a class action suit filed in San Diego, Jordan O'Hara, of San Diego, Brent Collins, of Newport Beach, Calif., and Olivia Johnston, of Culver City, Calif., the social media company worked with Cambridge Analytica, former White House strategist Steve Bannon, and Cambridge University researcher Aleksandr Kogan.
In the lawsuit, the three say Facebook "conspired" to help Cambridge Analytica, Bannon, and Kogan steal personal data in order to manipulate public opinion and U.S. elections. The suit claims Facebook has been aware of this and similar breaches for years.
"Facebook's failure to adequately protect ... data allowed [the defendants] to engage in an illicit and illegal appropriation of the data, the purpose of which was, at least in part, to disrupt the 2016 American presidential race," the lawsuit claims.
"The means by which this conspiracy was accomplished reads like an international crime novel, except that it actually happened," the suit adds.
The lawsuit requests compensatory and punitive damages in favor of the plaintiffs and proposed class action members, which includes those whose data was accessed by Cambridge Analytica in the U.S.
"Contrary to Facebook’s assurances that Plaintiffs’ data would be protected, the [defendants], in the course of their unlawful conspiracy, accessed, harvested and sold the data of millions of individuals, including Plaintiffs, for, among other things, use in their efforts to undermine the democratic process during the 2016 U.S. presidential election," the lawsuit states.
Encinitas firm Coast Law Group is among three firms representing the plaintiffs.
Facebook has said Cambridge Analytica may have accessed data on about 87 million users, most of whom are in the U.S.
The data was reportedly being collected by a professor for academic purposes, which is in line with Facebook's rules. However, it was later discovered that the information was transferred to third parties, including Cambridge Analytica, which is in violation of Facebook's policies.
Cambridge Analytica was hired in summer 2016 as part of the Trump campaign's three-pronged data operation. Bannon served a vice president and secretary of the data firm until he stepped down in August 2016 to run President Trump's campaign.