Social Site Sued for Harvesting Emails
Social site Tagged.com is facing the second big lawsuit over its registration process in as many months. First NY AG Andrew Cuomo (always a popular figure with social networks!) threatened to bring a lawsuit against Tagged for stealing emails and spamming “millions of Americans,” and now two women from California are suing Tagged for stealing their email contacts.
Okay, so maybe that’s not “big,” but it does stand to set a precedent.
In response to the NY AG’s similar accusations, Tagged founder Greg Tseng explained that Tagged’s registration process is abundantly clear, including several screenshots of the registration process (PDF), such as this:
Which could easily support either of these lawsuits, especially since the California case states
Tagged harvested millions of email addresses from the email address books of consumers. Then, using these consumers’ email account credentials, Tagged sent unsolicited advertisements to the harvested email addresses, making the messages appear as if they were invitations to join Tagged sent by persons known to the recipients.
The complaint says that the site also failed to make it clear that the users were registering for the site or sharing their friends’ email addresses (which doesn’t seem to be supported from Tagged’s screenshots of the process), and that these practices violate the federal Stored Communications Act and Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
To date, no social site has been successfully sued for similar practices. Tagged notes that inviting friends is the lifeblood of social sites’ growth, but often the practice is executed in such a way that looks like abuse.
What do you think? Do these examples look like abuse? Will this be enough to get a ruling in court, or will the case be thrown out like the suit against Reunion.com last year?