Facebook faces class action lawsuit for Android call and message data scraping

Unauthorised data collection on Android phones brings Facebook to court once again

Facebook is facing a class action lawsuit following the revelation that the social network was collecting data logs of messages and phone calls through its smartphone apps.   

Filed in a Northern California district court, the lawsuit alleges that Facebook did not make it clear in its terms and conditions that it would harvest call and message data within its apps. 

"Facebook's stated business model has morphed into a data aggregation and marketing scheme disguised as a social network," the filing states. "The terms of service and privacy notice materials do not inform (and in the past have not informed) the ordinary and reasonably attentive Facebook user that installing the application on a mobile device will result in the logging of all the user's phone and text communications."

The filing goes on to say that the unauthorised scraping "presents several wrongs, including a consumer bait-and-switch, an invasion of privacy, wrongful monitoring of minors, and potential attacks on privileged communications" such as those between solicitor and client or doctor and patient.

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Android users who installed the Facebook app to their phones before the Android 4.1 version and granted access to their contact lists were, according to the filing, also granting Facebook permission to automatically collect data on texts, calls, duration of calls and recipients.

After the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook users have been incentivised to dig through the information Facebook had on them, which revealed the data scraping the lawsuit brings to the court.

The lawsuit also claims that the data scraping violates California's Unfair Competition law, the Consumer Legal Remedies Act and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.

In all likelihood, Facebook has monetised the data and used it for advertising purposes. Though Facebook has previously argued that it only collects data when given permission and does not record the actual content of messages, users are skeptical on the truth of such statements.

The primary plaintiff, John Condelles III, is seeking $5 million and believes millions across the country will join the lawsuit.

Image credit: Shutterstock 

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