Facebook faces class-action lawsuit for collecting call and text data

Luis Colindres (Licensed)

This Android user is fighting back.

Facebook faces a class-action lawsuit over the discovery that it logged text messages and phone calls through its smartphone apps used by Android users.

In the lawsuit filed this week in the northern district of California, primary plaintiff John Condelles III said the social network’s actions “[present] several wrongs, including a consumer bait-and-switch, an invasion of privacy, wrongful monitoring of minors, and potential attacks on privileged communications.”

The revelation of the breach in privacy followed the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Many Facebook users started downloading their archived data files, or a copy of what the social network knows about them, and found concerning information, including their contacts, SMS data, and call history.

The plaintiffs allege that Facebook’s collection of that data breaches California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act, Electronic Communications Privacy Act, and Unfair Competition Law on three counts, including fraudulent business practice. Back on March 25, Facebook denied collecting the information it is now being sued over.

“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 — including recipients, dates of communication, length of communication and mode of communication — on Facebook’s servers for Facebook’s own use,” the lawsuit said.

Condelles seeks at least $5 million and hopes to turn the suit into a class-action across the U.S. because documentation shows that up until 2012 Facebook didn’t warn Android users that the messenger app would access phone and text logs.

“By granting this access, Android users were also automatically and unknowingly granting Facebook permission to ‘scrape’, or automatically gather, Android users’ call and text logs,” the lawsuit said. “In other words, Facebook scraped years’ worth of call and text data, including whether the call was ‘incoming’ ‘outgoing’, or ‘missed;’ the data and time of each call; the number dialled; the individual called; and the duration of each call.”

Facebook said in March that concerned Facebook users can opt out of the data access by turning off the feature in their settings.

This lawsuit is just the latest against Facebook Inc. It also faces a class-action lawsuit from both British and U.S. lawyers as part of a case against the social network, Cambridge Analytica, and two other companies for allegedly misusing the personal data of 71 million people.

Tess Cagle

Tess Cagle

Tess Cagle is a reporter who focuses on politics, lifestyle, and streaming entertainment. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Texas Monthly, the Austin American-Statesman, Damn Joan, and Community Impact Newspaper. She’s also a portrait, events, and live music photographer in Central Texas.