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Israeli Judge Approves $400 Million Class Action Against Facebook for Violating Privacy

Haaretz reports: An Israeli court has approved a class-action suit against Facebook for violating users’ privacy, ruling that a clause in Facebook’s terms of use requiring all suits to be heard in California courts is invalid.

The ruling is expected to spark other, similar suits by Israelis.

The $400-million suit, filed in the Central District Court by Ohad Ben Hamo, argued that Facebook violates users’ privacy by using their private posts to determine which advertisements they should see, without obtaining their knowing consent to this policy. The suit also accused Facebook of violating Israeli law by not registering its database in the national database registry.

Facebook argued that the suit should be thrown out because, among other reasons, its terms of use – which all regular users must sign – explicitly require all suits against it to be heard by one of two specified California courts. Moreover, it said, its relationship with users is governed by California law, which would also preclude Israeli courts from hearing such suits.

But Judge Esther Stemmer, whose ruling was first reported by the journal Seventh Eye, rejected these arguments, despite acknowledging that legal precedent does award jurisdictional priority to the courts stipulated in the users’ agreement.

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