Tanya O’Carroll v Meta; Landmark case to stop Facebook spying on us


Tanya O’Carroll v Meta; Landmark case to stop Facebook spying on us

This press statement is from our client Tanya O’Carroll relating to her case against Meta. The statement is produced by our client and her press agency, di:ga. Ms O’Carroll is a Senior fellow at Foxglove who have made a further statement about the case.

  • Human rights campaigner Tanya O’Carroll brings litigation to challenge Facebook surveillance advertising
  • Court asked to enforce unqualified “right to object” under GDPR

People have the right to use Facebook without letting the company rifle through their data and profile them for advertising, a landmark case filed today in the UK High Court argues.

The case has been brought by human rights campaigner and Foxglove Senior Fellow Tanya O’Carroll after Meta repeatedly refused to respect Ms.O’Carroll’s absolute right to object to being surveilled and profiled.

While the case is being brought by an individual data subject in the UK against Facebook, a win could set a precedent for millions of users of search engines or social media in the UK and EU who have been forced to accept invasive surveillance and profiling to use digital platforms.

“We shouldn’t have to give up every detail of our personal lives just to connect with friends and family online. The law gives us the right to take back control over our personal data and stop Facebook surveilling and tracking us.” said Ms. O’Carroll.

Internet users have had the “right to object” since the GDPR was adopted in the UK in 2018. But despite the plain language of the law, Facebook has thwarted Ms. O’Carroll’s efforts to exercise her rights. She is represented by Ravi Naik, at leading data rights agency AWO. “Meta is straining to concoct legal arguments to deny our client even has this right. But Tanya’s claim is straight-forward; it will hopefully breathe life back into the rights we are all guaranteed under the GDPR,” Naik said.

The UK’s competition regulator, Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), cites Facebook’s invasive spying as an example of the abuse of Facebook’s monopoly power. The CMA’s final report on online platforms and digital advertising finds that Facebook “uses default settings to nudge people into using their services and giving up their data”. This includes the requirement to “accept personalised advertising as a condition for using the service.” It also points out this is not what Facebook users really want: “Only a small minority (13%) say they are happy to share their data in return for relevant ads.”

Facebook’s surveillance mechanisms, which harvest billions of people’s data to profile them for advertising, has been shown to fuel discrimination and harm children. Facebook has allowed advertisers, for example, to exclude people from seeing ads for housing, credit or employment, on the basis of profiling by race, gender or age as well as interests or groups that can serve as proxies for those categories. Facebook has also allowed ads for alcohol, pharmaceuticals, and extreme weight loss to be targeted at children as young as 13.

Meta’s annual global revenue last year was over $117 billion USD. Facebook’s annual revenue per user in the UK has skyrocketed from £5 per user in 2011 to more than £50 in 2019.

For media inquiries and interviews please contact: Nick Colwill, di:ga Communications on 07808091100 or Kristiana Papi, di:ga Communications on 07572 382252

You can access the claim documents here.