Facebook is facing legal action from users angry over the data grab perpetrated by company's Android app, which Dysoned up call and text meta data on users' devices. The law suit is being led by a trio of users, according to Reuters.
Due to some versions of Android older than Jelly Bean - dating back to 2012 - being excessively liberal in terms of the data their permission allowed third-party apps to access, Facebook Lite and Messenger on Android phones somehow ended up scraping user's call and text history, even though Facebook claims it had no intention of using the information.
Google didn't get round to tightening up permissions in Android until October last year.
All this data collection was therefore done with users' consent when they approved the app's permissions to access various elements on their smartphones - whether users realised the extent of what they were approving is another matter, though.
The class action has been instigated in the Northern District of California federal court.
Facebook's data collection has come under scrutiny over the past week or two in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica affair. After staying resolutely silent, CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg has even been roused to testify before Congress in the US, although he has refused to extend the same courtesy to Parliament in the UK.
The class action lawsuit Facebook faces hasn't disclosed an amount the plaintiffs are seeking yet, and it still needs to be assessed by a judge, who'll need to decide if enough people have been affected by the data harvesting.
Facebook will no doubt mobilise the most expensive lawyers money can buy in a bid to put a stop to the case. So far, Mark Zuckerberg hasn't exactly been overwhelmed with contrition over Facebook's data harvesting or the alleged illegitimacy of Cambridge Analytica's use of Facebook profile data.
Facebook's Android-based data collection practices were put under the spotlight late last week by software developer Dylan McKay, who downloaded and sifted through a copy of the data his Facebook account had on him - something anyone can do under Facebook's General Settings.
Downloaded my facebook data as a ZIP file— Dylan McKay (@dylanmckaynz) 21 March 2018
Somehow it has my entire call history with my partner's mum pic.twitter.com/CIRUguf4vD
It would seem that Facebook gathered such data legally through the use of the Android permission structure that governs what access apps have to a device's and its user's data, rather than a concerted effort on Facebook's part to hoover up such information.
If users of the Facebook Lite and Messenger apps on versions of Android older than Jelly Bean gave the apps access to phone contacts it would gain access to calls and texts by default.
As such, the apps were able to collect such data until Google changed the Android API version 4.0 in October 2017; Apple fans can sit smugly knowing there were no such issues with iOS versions of Facebook's apps.
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