In an order issued this week, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling in April which revived a class-action lawsuit filed under a provision of the Wiretap Act (via Gizmodo).
Facebook Widgets: Wiretaps?
The lawsuit goes back to 2011. Several people claimed that Facebook infringed their privacy by collecting peoples’ data through its suite of web plugins. These plugs collected data on every website visitor, even if they weren’t logged into Facebook, and even if they didn’t even have a Facebook account. Facebook claimed this was a bug.
The judges also said the users could proceed with allegations that Facebook violated California privacy laws, including one that prohibits companies from engaging in “intrusion upon seclusion” — which occurs when companies intentionally make a “highly offensive” intrusion into a private matter.
But the judges noted that the “ultimate question” of Facebook’s liability couldn’t be decided without more facts.
In 2017 U.S. District Court Judge Edward Davila in San Jose, California dismissed the case, saying the claimants didn’t show they suffered economic injury as a result of these privacy violations. They then appealed to the 9th Circuit, which revived the case. This new ruling says that if the privacy allegations are true, Facebook violated the Wiretap Act.