Beacon Drama Not Over, Class-Action Suit Filed

Back in November of last year, a massive backlash ensued against Facebook for its failed attempt at releasing Beacon. Within weeks, the company decided to make the program opt-in, bowing to critics of the program. Well according to Nacy Gohring of IDG News Service, “A class-action suit filed in California charges Facebook and a handful of other companies, including Blockbuster, Fandango and Overstock, with violating online privacy and computer fraud laws related to Facebook’s controversial Beacon system.”

If you don’t remember the problem with Beacon, it was that all users were voluntarily registered for the program whether or not they knew it. Additionally, if you didn’t notice an alert in the corner of your screen that notified you of the Beacon alert being generated by your online activities, it would automatically publish the information after a period of time if you didn’t respond. Some even claimed that Facebook ruined Christmas after the holiday gifts that they purchased showed up in friends’ newsfeeds.

Facebook essentially turned off the program by making it opt-in but some people were not satisfied enough. “The suit asks the court to require Facebook and the other affiliate sites to delete any of the data they collected without user knowledge, award restitution to class members and return any ‘ill-gotten gains’ from the activities that allegedly violated privacy and fraud laws.” Other companies included in this suit are Hotwire, STA Travel, Zappos.com and Gamefly.

I’m not sure how the court will determined “ill-gotten gains” but at the least Facebook will have one more legal issue to manage. Honestly, this suit is a bit delayed but I guess better late then never, right?



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