Facebook Privacy Hearing Gets Heated, Doesn’t Reach A Conclusion

Privacy symbol with digital globe, 3d renderLast week, U.S. District Judge Edward Davila called a hearing on Facebook’s motion to dismiss a long-running privacy case against it. The case began in 2012, and features a group of plaintiffs seeking $15 billion in damages for Facebook’s alleged violation of the Federal Wiretap Act, plus numerous other violations. The case was dismissed last year, but the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint.

The main issue of contention in the case is whether or not Facebook violated user privacy by collecting URLs from their browser and their browser history even when users were logged out of the site. Facebook has said that the four plaintiffs in the case haven’t identified any concrete way they were harmed by this practice, though the plaintiff’s attorneys argued forcefully that it constitutes a strong invasion of privacy.

“This decision has policy implications and the implications for user privacy are very bad should the plaintiffs not prevail,” said Jay Barnes, one of the plaintiff’s attorneys. “Privacy in this economy starts with corporate privacy, because in many instances the government gets its information through corporations. Information obtained without the consent has never been and should never be part of an ordinary business practice.”

The judge adjourned the hearing without ruling in favor of either side, so you can bet this marathon of a case is far from over.