Facebook users owed damages for privacy violations: Consumer watchdog

Consumers' association Consumentenbond and data privacy foundation DPS are starting a procedure to demand that Facebook compensate Netherlands users for violating their privacy. According to the watchdogs, Facebook users in the Netherlands deserve compensation because Facebook earned money off their private data without their knowledge or consent. They call on consumers to join this action.

"Facebook collected data on a large scale from users that they could consider private. They did not know that Facebook passed that information on to advertisers and app makers. Facebook's privacy policy was insufficiently clear, inconsistent and unnecessarily difficult," Consumentenbond director Sandra Molenaar said.

According to the consumers' association, Facebook earned millions by selling users' private data - like gender, age, place of residence, and what they shared with their Facebook friends - to advertisers and app developers. It also misled users - "the platform wrongly promised that the use would always be free, when users actually 'paid' with their data", the association said. "Thus, Facebook enriched itself unjustly and at the expense of its users." 

Facebook can therefore take some of its millions and compensate users for abusing their trust and their data, according to Consumentenbond. 

The association added that financial compensation must not mean that Facebook can continue on the same foot. "There must be an end to this kind of privacy violation. And Facebook must be crystal clear in its communication to users. They must have full control over their data," Molenaar said.