Facebook Privacy Lawsuit
A U.S. District Court in San Jose, California, has allowed a lawsuit accusing Facebook of privacy violations to proceed. The lawsuit has claimed that the most popular social-networking site in the world gave advertisers unauthorized access to personal information of users when they clicked on ads. Though the court dismissed eight claims due to lack of tangible evidence, it rejected the plea by the social-networking site to dismiss the entire lawsuit and allowed five claims to be refiled. Judge James Ware observed that the allegations by the plaintiffs were enough to establish the fact that they have suffered the injury.
The plaintiffs, two individuals from California, filed the lawsuit against Facebook earlier this year seeking damages for injury caused on eight grounds, violation of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, Stored Communications Act, fraud, breach of contract, unfair competition, and other claims. According to the plaintiffs, Facebook allowed advertisers to access their profiles and personal information after they clicked on advertisements between February 2010 and March 2010. They claim this act of the social-networking major make them feel “injured,” as advertisers are not authorized to access names, genders, and pictures of users without their consent.
Similar Privacy Lawsuits Against Facebook
Facebook is the largest social-networking site with more than 500 million members. However, there have been several complaints against the site for failure to protect the privacy of users. Facebook is also listed by the European Union for possible privacy-rule breaches and unauthorized use of personal data. In 2005, two MIT students demonstrated the possibility of data mining on the Facebook by downloading over 70,000 profile information.
Facebook Data Mining Case in Canada
In May 2009, the Privacy Commission of Canada suggested Internet providers to block Facebook, as it did not comply with national privacy laws. It preceded the famous "minefield of privacy invasion" suit filed by three Ottawa University law students. Facebook agreed to comply with privacy norms suggested under the Canadian Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act after persistent legal pressure.
California Class Action Lawsuits Against Facebook
In August 2009, five people sued Facebook in the Orange County Superior Court of California accusing it of violating state privacy laws and indulging in false advertising. The plaintiffs claimed that the social-networking site shared personal information and photos of them with third parties. It charged Facebook of collecting and analyzing content on profiles for data mining purpose without user knowledge.
Rebecca Swift filed a class action lawsuit against Facebook and its associate Zynga Game Network on November 17, 2009. The suit filed in the California Northern District federal court accused the social-networking site of violating Consumers Legal Remedies Act and fair competition law for unjust enrichment.
Beacon Lawsuit Settlement by Facebook
In December 2009, Facebook agreed to halt its Beacon advertising program and paid $9.5 million to settle a lawsuit. Beacon was started in 2007, but it ran into problems when a class action lawsuit was filed against it in April 2008. The plaintiffs accused Facebook of using the program to track users' actions on partner sites and displaying them on Facebook without consent. Though Facebook stopped short of admitting its fault, it deposited $9.5 million to set up a nonprofit fund to support online privacy and security. The settlement also included $41,500 to be paid to 19 plaintiffs.
Texas Lawsuit Against Blockbuster
In 2008, Texas native Cathryn Elaine Harris filed a class action accusing social-networking site Blockbuster of privacy violations. Blockbuster violated the Video Privacy Protection Act by reporting back user activities to Facebook and the latter posted it on its site. The lawsuit has asked for $2,500 as damage per incident of personal information disclosure made by Blockbuster to Facebook. The litigation is awaiting judgment.
In October 2010, Nancy Graf of St. Paul, Minnesota, filed a class-action lawsuit in a San Francisco federal court accusing Zynga, social-games maker and partner of Facebook, of deliberately sharing Facebook data of users. It seeks substantial monetary compensation which could be $10,000 per incident. The plaintiff charged Zynga of providing personal data of users to advertisers and internet marketing companies without consent and earning substantial profit from it. The suit mentions violations of Electronic Communications Privacy Act, California Computer Crime Law, Stored Communications Act, and fraud.
Lawsuits Against Internet-Based Companies
Within 8 months of lunching Buzz, Google was slapped a class action lawsuit in September 2010 for violation of privacy laws. The company made a settlement by paying $8.5 million to plaintiffs. The case was filed after Buzz used individual emails from Google Gmail to make a social network.
Google is also facing a $50 million lawsuit filed by two Michigan natives, Julie Brown and Kayla Molaski, in April 2011. The plaintiffs seeking a class action status to the lawsuit claim that identification of location details through Android devices can lead to privacy violations.
MySpace Sued Over Privacy Violation
Class-Action Lawsuit Against Amazon.com
A class-action lawsuit filed on March 2, 2011, alleges that Amazon.com uses deceptive practices to circumvent browser privacy settings and collect users’ personal information. It is accused to be sharing the information with third parties in an unauthorized manner.
Last month a US district court in California allowed a privacy lawsuit filed against social-networking game maker RockYou to proceed further. The lawsuit filed in 2009 accuses RockYou of negligence, violations of data protection laws, and breach of contract.
San Francisco resident Kevin Low has filed a class action lawsuit against social-networking site LinkedIn for violating users’ privacy. The lawsuit accuses the social-networking site of leaking information to advertisers without the consent of its users.