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Indian-American judge slaps 1 mn fine on Facebook

New York, Feb 13 (IANS) Indian-American judge Vince Chhabria has slapped a fine of almost $1 million on Meta, Facebook’s parent company, and its law firm for creating obstacles for court and users in a data breach trial.

According to a Bloomberg report, District Judge Chhabria wrote in an order that the fine is “loose change” for Facebook and Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP for deceitfully denying that it shared users’ private information with third parties.

The San Francisco judge said that Facebook relied on “delay, misdirection, and frivolous arguments” to make the litigation unfairly difficult and expensive. “Perhaps realising they had no real argument for withholding these documents, Facebook and Gibson Dunn contorted various statements” of opposing lawyers and the court beyond recognition,” Chhabria wrote, according to Bloomberg.

“And again, after being told repeatedly that these arguments made no sense, Facebook and Gibson Dunn insisted on pressing them,” he said.

The judge added that Facebook also attempted to push the users, who had filed a complaint against it, into settling for a lesser compensation.

The lawsuit was filed in a California court on behalf of Facebook users impacted by Meta’s partnership with research firm Cambridge Analytica.

The $925,078.51 penalty comes after Meta had agreed a $725 million settlement in December 2022 to resolve a class-action lawsuit, which claimed that Facebook illegally shared user data with Cambridge Analytica.

In March 2018, whistleblower Christopher Wylie publicly revealed that Cambridge Analytica exfiltrated personal data of 87 million Facebook users in the US in order to influence the results of the 2016 US presidential election.

This data trove included Facebook users’ ages, interests, pages they liked, groups they followed, physical locations, political and religious affiliations, relationships, and photos, as well as their full names, phone numbers, and email addresses.

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