Our actions against Meta

Why did we launch two actions against Meta? And what are the actions about?

For years Meta collected personal data of Facebook users and their Facebook friends and made this data accessible to third parties. Meta made billions with this, while it did not inform, or did not sufficiently inform its users about the processing of their personal data for commercial purposes, and did not have Facebook users’ permission. Facebook users were also misled because Meta withheld essential information about its earnings model. Meta is also guilty of transferring personal data collected on or through Facebook and Instagram outside Europe. That transfer is not allowed unless there are sufficient safeguards that ensure the data is properly protected, for example against surveillance by U.S. intelligence agencies. There was and is no such safeguard.

The Foundation, in cooperation with Consumentenbond, therefore launched two actions against Meta.

(1) Action on the unlawful use of personal data.

The first action is against Meta Platforms, Inc., Meta Platforms Ireland Ltd. and Facebook Netherlands B.V. This action concerns the processing (use) of personal data, including sensitive data (such as sexual or religious preferences, or information about health), for advertising purposes without the consent of Facebook users in the Netherlands. The action is also about sharing personal data with application developers without properly informing Facebook users. A well-known example of this is the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

As part of this first action, the Foundation initiated legal proceedings on December 29, 2019. On March 15, 2023, the Amsterdam District Court ruled that Meta Ireland (Facebook’s European headquarters) had violated the privacy and consumer rights of its users in the Netherlands for years. Meta Ireland has lodged an appeal against this decision with the Amsterdam Court of Appeal.

The initial lawsuit concerned the time period before Jan. 1, 2020. It has since become well understood that much of Meta’s conduct has not stopped. Because Meta’s unlawful actions must stop and we believe that Facebook users are entitled to compensation, the Foundation has started a new lawsuit. That new lawsuit is about the conduct raised in the first action (for the time period to the present) and the second action is discussed below (see also “The (new) lawsuit for damages” below).

(2) Action on the transfer of personal data outside Europe.

The second action is against Meta Platforms, Inc. and Meta Platforms Ireland Ltd. This action deals with the (illegal) transfer of personal data outside Europe without adequate protection against government surveillance.

The (new) lawsuit for damages

On March 1, 2024, the Foundation sued Meta Platforms Inc., Meta Platforms Ireland Ltd. and Facebook Netherlands B.V. again before the Amsterdam District Court, because negotiations between the Foundation and Meta unfortunately led to nothing. In these (new) legal proceedings, the Foundation claims damages in both actions. For the first action, the Foundation demands that Meta pay €750 per Facebook user for the years of violations of privacy and consumer rights of Facebook users in the Netherlands. In addition, the court is asked to determine the amount of compensation due to Facebook users based on the value of their data that Meta wrongfully profited from. For the second action, the Foundation demands an amount of €500 for violation of the privacy of Facebook and/or Instagram users in the Netherlands. Please see the Extract of Writ of Summons for more information about this (new) lawsuit.

For information about who the Foundation represents in both actions and your participation in one or both actions, see Aggrieved Parties and Sign up.”