Human rights lawyer of the year: Ravi Naik picks up Law Society award for Cambridge Analytica case

PUBLISHED: 08:50 22 October 2018 | UPDATED: 17:32 23 October 2018

Ravi Naik receiving his accolade at the Law Society’s Excellence Awards. Picture: Law Society

Ravi Naik receiving his accolade at the Law Society’s Excellence Awards. Picture: Law Society

Law Society

The solicitor who represented Prof David Carroll in the action against Cambridge Analytica has been named human rights lawyer of the year by the Law Society.

Guests at the Law Society’s Excellence Awards 2918. Picture: Law SocietyGuests at the Law Society’s Excellence Awards 2918. Picture: Law Society

Ravi Naik, of London Fields, was the lead lawyer in the case which precipitated the downfall of the company that harvested the personal data of millions of people’s Facebook profiles without their consent, and used it for political purposes.

“That idea of ‘I have nothing to hide so why do I need to keep things private’ is becoming an outdated mode of thinking, and people are starting to understand free internet services,” Ravi, a partner at Irvine Thanvi Natas, told the Gazette.

“Human rights in the digital age is about holding new power to account, and that’s often with tech companies - Facebook is a really good example of a company that’s worth how many billions of pounds is able to offer a free service, and the answer is you and your data.”

He added: “I’ve been working on digital rights issues for 18 months across various sectors against Tinder, financial risk profiling companies and companies involved in the democratic process. We have touched on love, money and power, which has showed not only how important technology has become, but how important it is to stand up for your data rights.”

Ravi always knew he wanted to be a lawyer, having been influenced by his great uncle who was one of the Ghandi freedom fighters.

“He was a barrister in the UK and taught me about the power of the law to effect change,” said Ravi. “That message really stuck with me. Winning an award was a testimony to him.”

Throughout his career Ravi has been involved in plenty of more traditional types of human rights cases, from representing victims of counter terrorism rendition torture practices and helping people get out of Guantanamo Bay, to helping other get out of unlawful immigration detention.

“The data stuff takes the headlines but day-to-day helping my community and making sure equality of arms against those in authority, whether it’s the state or a private actor, and giving people a chance to put their side of the story across, is equally as rewarding,” said Ravi.

He is thrilled to have won the award. “It was a sensational feeling,” he said.

“It was completely unexpected, and the strength of the other nominees was so great. It’s been an absolute pleasure to be in the running but to win is remarkable and testament to the work we are doing here as a firm, and the work the data rights movement is taking on. It’s an important message to how important access to justice is in a time of diminishing public resources.”

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