Will 2010 Privacy Suits Vs. Facebook, Zynga Be Rekindled?

By David Cohen 

KeyboardPrivacyButton650Facebook and game developer Zynga may see privacy-related complaints that were filed against them in 2010 and dismissed in 2011 resurface if the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco rules in favor of the plaintiffs in the cases, Bloomberg reported.

According to Bloomberg, the 2010 case against Facebook was based on users’ claims that the social network “automatically and surreptitiously” disclosed information about them to advertisers after they clicked on ads, and the 2010 case against Zynga was based on users’ claims that the developer revealed communications including “personally identifiable information” to third parties without their permission.

U.S. Circuit Judge Richard Tallman said at a hearing last week that when Congress crafted the Stored Communications Act, it could not have imagined these alleged violations in its “wildest dreams,” adding:

Part of the problem is that we’re dealing with statutes written long before this technology existed. There has to be substantial value to the information, or Facebook and Zynga wouldn’t be doing what they’re doing.

Bloomberg reported that Aaron Panner, an attorney for Facebook, told the three-judge panel that the social network did not violate the Stored Communications Act, as the user information cited by the plaintiffs were not “contents of communication,” as described by the law, and the plaintiffs failed to claim any “actual and appreciable damage” under California law.

And Richard Seabolt, a lawyer representing Zynga, told the panel that the plaintiffs attempted to “force-fit” their claims into federal wiretap and stored communication laws, and that the “inadvertent” revealing of Facebook user IDs was the result of the ” customary operation of the Internet and browsers.”

According to Bloomberg, the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco did not set a date for when it would rule on the cases.

Readers: Should these lawsuits be revived?

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