A federal judge has ordered Facebook to face a nationwide lawsuit seeking damages for allowing third parties to access users’ private data, calling Facebook’s views on privacy “so wrong.”
Reuters reports this week that a federal judge ordered Facebook to face a nationwide lawsuit seeking damages for allowing third parties to access users’ private data. U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco said that users could attempt to hold Facebook liable under a number of federal and state laws for allowing app developers and business partners to harvest users personal data without their consent.
The judge rejected Facebook’s claims that its users suffered no “tangible” harm and had no legitimate privacy interest in information they were already sharing with friends on social media. Chhabria commented on this stating: “Facebook’s motion to dismiss is littered with assumptions about the degree to which social media users can reasonably expect their personal information and communications to remain private. Facebook’s view is so wrong.”
A Facebook spokesperson stated that the company considers protecting users information and privacy “extremely important” but believes that its practices were consistent with its disclosures and as a result “do not support any legal claims.” Two of the plaintiffs’ lawyers, Lesley Weaver and Derek Loeser, stated that they were pleased with the judge’s decision and “especially gratified that the court is respecting Facebook users’ right to privacy.”
Chhabria stated that Facebook should not treat user privacy as an “all-or-nothing” proposition where users are forced to forfeit their privacy by sharing data in a “limited” fashion. Chhabria further noted that Facebook had argued the opposite in other cases such as one in California where it likened information kept on social media accounts to data stored on smartphones where there may be a greater expectation of privacy.
Chhabria stated that position is “closer to the truth than the company’s assertions in this case,” and added that “Sharing information with your social media friends does not categorically eliminate your privacy interest in that information.”