Facebook Dodges Legal Bullet
A group who was trying to ding Facebook on privacy found that the pot at the end of the rainbow was empty for now as their case in a California court was tossed but still allowed to return if there is actually anything to it.
A federal judge has gutted a lawsuit filed against Facebook for allegedly leaking users’ personal information to advertisers on the grounds that they didn’t suffer specific injuries and the leak didn’t run afoul of wiretap and computer fraud statutes.
Oh well, looks like these Winklevoss wannabes will have to go back to the legal drawing board to hit the Facebook Lotto.
It’s an interesting ruling in that it falls under the “no harm, no foul” banner of how the Internet and privacy may play out in the courts. That’s an interesting take because it’s like only admitting something exists if something bad happens.
I see this in the same vein as the dangerous intersection in town that has been the site of many accidents and it’s a known hazard but the government won’t install a traffic light until a few people are killed as a result of the situation. Makes sense on some level except for the one that includes common sense.
Of course, having your information handed over to advertisers usually won’t result in death so maybe the courts are going to side with Facebook for a while. What’s the worst thing that can happen? Identity theft that ruins someone life and makes it a living hell on earth? Stop complaining! It’s just your privacy!
For now though it looks like Facebook and other online gatherers of data are on a roll since this is not the first ruling that feels that an ounce of prevention comes nowhere near the value of a ultimately applying a pound of cure.
The ruling is only the latest time a lawsuit brought for alleged privacy breaches has been dismissed because the plaintiffs didn’t allege a specific injury. In late 2009, a federal judge threw out claims brought against Express Scripts for a lapse that exposed customers’ names, dates of birth, social security numbers, and prescription drug histories. Last year, the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals absolved clothing retailer The Gap for exposing sensitive information for 800,000 customers when laptops with unencrypted contents were stolen.
Personally, I will error on the side of caution. The more I learn about how sloppy Facebook is with any data the less I am willing to hand it over to Zuck and company.
What about you?