A 62-year-old California woman has sued the AMC television network for sharing with Facebook her personal web browsing info on the TV channel’s site, which enables “social plugins” that allow Facebook to track what its users are watching. The suit claimed that this practice violates the Video Privacy Protection Act, a 1988 law that has come under increasing scrutiny for its application to Internet video.
“Facebook is uniquely able to directly link the data they accumulate on individuals’ digital behaviors with the additional personal data that it extracts from its users’ Facebook accounts,” her complaint said. “When combined, this data reveals deeply personal information about a consumer.”
However, a judge found that her complaint stretched the intentions of the law, and that she could not demonstrate that she was a “subscriber” to the site. She can still amend her complaint, but the ruling could prove to be a setback.
Though Facebook was not named in the complaint, this case and ones like it could have a big impact on Facebook users. As pointed out by the Wall Street Journal, the essence of this court ruling is simple and unsettling: Facebook has the right to track your viewing habits all across the Internet, even on websites it doesn’t control.