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Users Sue Google, Facebook, Zynga Over Privacy

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the three-wrist-slaps-coming-up dept.

Google 66

Trailrunner7 writes "A raft of class action lawsuits filed in Federal court charge the globe's biggest social networking firms with violating federal communications privacy laws, allowing advertisers to profit from personal information harvested from users. Weeks after the Wall Street Journal blew the whistle on lax data privacy standards on Facebook, a string of class action suits attempt to hold the social networking giant, as well as game company Zynga and Google liable for what the suits contend are lax practices that allow advertisers to harvest personal information on Web users. The suits are seeking monetary damages on behalf of potentially millions of users of the three companies. The suits allege that the users' personal information has been leaked to advertisers and other unauthorized individuals, in violation of the companies' privacy policies and a number of state and federal statues protecting the confidentiality of electronic communications."

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66 comments

Who would have thought.... (1, Insightful)

pngwen (72492) | more than 3 years ago | (#34068090)

Who would have thought that posting something to a vast world wide network could result in many people seeing it? It's getting so you can't shout out your front door without people hearing you. You also can't post secrets on billboards without them being read by passers by. What is the world coming to?

Re:Who would have thought.... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34068216)

In fact this isn't a first time such dumb lawsuit is filled.
Last time a user to claimed 150000$ in damages from a small website for few offensive comments that were posted against him.
Actually the case was settled to 1000$ and removal of the comments.
Link here [bit.ly]

Re:Who would have thought.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34068286)

Exactly.

> allowing advertisers to profit from personal information harvested from users

That's what their entire business model is! What sort of Neanderthal would be surprised at this?

Some other recent lawsuit news:

* Man sues water for being wet.
* Woman sues Dell, claiming they only sold her a computer, "to make money for themselves".

Re:Who would have thought.... (3, Insightful)

anyGould (1295481) | more than 3 years ago | (#34068658)

On the other hand, if you don't do your research, it's not that obvious that clicking a button to watch a video means you've agreed to hand over your life's history for advertising purposes.

Re:Who would have thought.... (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#34069370)

On the other hand, if you don't do your research, it's not that obvious that clicking a button to watch a video means you've agreed to hand over your life's history for advertising purposes.

You have not. You handed them a unique identifier much like your name. If you chose to publish your life's history so anyone who knows your name / id can find it, then any of that info they get is a result of you doing that and providing them the means to find info about you.

Re:Who would have thought.... (1)

mbkennel (97636) | more than 3 years ago | (#34069678)

Behold the apotheosis of the Libertarian Utopia

Well, I guess you can always play with your guns.

Re:Who would have thought.... (1)

phyrexianshaw.ca (1265320) | more than 3 years ago | (#34069474)

on the other hand: maybe people should stop expecting that people are giving shit away for "free".
if you don't do the research to ensure yourself what the costs are: it's kinda too bad.
Seriously: if you want a social networking platform that is easy to use, provides entertainment, and is accessible to you and whatever friends/people you want:

start a company, build the product, market it, and reap the rewards. otherwise: shut up and keep using the shit for free and give up your rights to whatever data they ask for.

Re:Who would have thought.... (5, Insightful)

countSudoku() (1047544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34068368)

Stupid us for thinking that password protection, and a friend's only policy on viewing, coupled with the search feature turned off, would protect us from the facebook's unwillingness to do it's core job; connect me with some people without sharing what I would consider private among my friends with the whole fucking social network eco-system scam. Silly me, why not just get rid of the password, right, bro? I mean, if it's public EVERYONE should be able to login as anyone else? What's the difference? Why don't you post your facebook username and password and back up your lame position, friend? Otherwise, your argument == FAIL.

I see a whole shitload of angry villagers armed with pitchforks, burning torches, and small handmade weapons heading towards the fucking Social Network Bubble...

Re:Who would have thought.... (0, Troll)

phyrexianshaw.ca (1265320) | more than 3 years ago | (#34069494)

Did you read the terms of service? did it say ANYWHERE in there that your profile is YOURS and that nobody can use the data that you provide them and they store for you free of charge to do with as they please?

if you don't like they way a system works: there's nobody making you use it.

Re:Who would have thought.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34070178)

are you 12 yrs old or do you just play one on slashdot?

Mom: Why did you hit your sister? You said you'd play nicely.
You: AWWW Mom, I didn't SAY I wouldn't hit her. I just said I'd be nice.

Folks like you that think people/companies are not obligated to make an attempt at not fucking others over unless they put it in writing are what allow those people/companies to keep fucking others over...

Re:Who would have thought.... (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071476)

Did you read the terms of service?

Of course he didn't. No one who actually read the Facebook ToS would actually click on the 'I Agree' button.

Re:Who would have thought.... (3, Interesting)

dunezone (899268) | more than 3 years ago | (#34068590)

Who would have thought that posting something to a vast world wide network could result in many people seeing it? It's getting so you can't shout out your front door without people hearing you. You also can't post secrets on billboards without them being read by passers by. What is the world coming to?

Does the billboard have a locked door in front of it that only certain people have a key to?

Facebook does but you know what they did? They decided to allow a second door, this second door didn't require a key but it only let you see a portion of the board. A portion that was previously behind a locked door that you already restricted access to.

Re:Who would have thought.... (1)

phyrexianshaw.ca (1265320) | more than 3 years ago | (#34069542)

If you imagine the internet as a billboard, a password is NOT a wall blocking that billboard.

the internet operates like a billboard. everything is accessible to anybody connecting to it. some of it may be in an envelope saying "don't read me!" and some of it may be in a code you don't understand. in the case of a "profile" like facebook, your data is not "password protected" but rather the username/password combination is instead your token for the guard standing watching one section of the billboard.

if you provide him a correct pair, he shows you some information that he thinks might be of interest to you. there's nothing stopping somebody else from lying to him and getting any information from him, and the billboard still has all your information on it.

THAT'S the internet. it's insecure by default, and unless you're paying somebody to encrypt all the traffic you move over it, you have to play by all the same rules. I assume you don't pay a monthly bill to keep the lights on for facebook, so they have to get revenue from you from other means.

Re:Who would have thought.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34071454)

THAT'S the internet. it's insecure by default, and unless you're paying somebody to encrypt all the traffic you move over it, you have to play by all the same rules. I assume you don't pay a monthly bill to keep the lights on for facebook, so they have to get revenue from you from other means.

That's fine, SO LONG AS THEY TELL THE TRUTH ABOUT IT. If they're going to hand over your personal data to other people for money they should NOT be handing out the information they allowed you to tell them to keep private. If they're going to be selling you out regardless of if your information is checked as "only me" or "everybody and their dog" then they should be honest about it and remove all options except "everybody and their dog".

At that point everyone can see up front what's going on and make their informed decision to stay (And have their lives whored out for corporate interests) or delete their profile and not turn back.

By doing what they're doing, they're basically lying to their users. For profit. To keep people from running away since they know damned well they'll lose people that way, and the more people they lose, the emptier the remaining site appears to the others who start to wonder if it's worth staying.

Re:Who would have thought.... (5, Interesting)

bonch (38532) | more than 3 years ago | (#34068646)

Boy, I sure am tired of seeing this old argument trotted out in every one of these articles. There is a reasonable expectation of privacy if you are only connecting to friends. Nobody expects the apps they're playing to be sending private information out to advertisers.

You're a sign of the change happening to posters here. Years ago, this community used to be very pro-piracy. Tor stories used to hit the front page. These days, it seems privacy only matters when it enables risk-free piracy, because it seems like the only time people get pissed off about privacy anymore is when user IPs are requested from ISPs for downloading copyrighted materials.

Do you seriously believe that the mere fact you connect to the internet means all your private information should be distributed to everybody? Does ANYBODY here remember when one of the major appeals of the internet was its anonymity? I guess Google has conditioned you into accepting that everything gets indexed, archived, and sold to advertisers. Even your emails.

It really is true--people can be trained to accept a chipping away at their individuality and their rights if it's done gradually over time.

Re:Who would have thought.... (1)

phyrexianshaw.ca (1265320) | more than 3 years ago | (#34069568)

if you give it to people that are storing it "free of charge":

then yes, I expect all information I provide in such a way to be sold to the highest bidder and traded like a commodity. if I didn't want that to happen: I'd not give it away for free.

Re:Who would have thought.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34071374)

You're the very reason these companies get away with this shit.

bonch had an excellent point; "reasonable expectations" has legal ramifications meaning anyone using a service; which is how facebook is marketed; has reasonable expectations depending how something is marketed regardless of whether its free or not. Just because something is free doesn't mean a company can do whatever the hell they want. Hell half the EULAs that consumers agree to wouldn't even stand up in court because they force you to agree to items that take away your rights in the process. If you agree that they can then you're another one of the ignorant bastards who lives in this country and need to stop procreating if you're doing so because we don't need you fucking up the gene pool even more.

Re:Who would have thought.... (1)

phyrexianshaw.ca (1265320) | more than 3 years ago | (#34106198)

Interesting that:
1) I'm ok with my information being given away freely, 2) posted this as a real user 3) not interested in overpopulating the world any further.

I'm guessing you're a conservative. One that holds the ideal that the "world should stay exactly the same all the time". As a Liberal Democrat, I'm of the view that people should be able to decide what happens around them, and to what extent.

Personally this whole case looks pretty cut and dry to me. If you don't like the terms of service a company maintains for a product/service, even if the terms seem unenforceable: don't use the product/service. When a judge declares that "you as the consumer were in the right, and the company didn't have the right to make the claim they had" who's going to end up getting burned?

that's right: you are. a service that you used prior may no longer be available to you due to the legal action you took.

people need to stop giving people their money/data/clicks/eyes away only to sue others to get it back, and start taking responsibilities for their actions. If you don't like something: don't support it. if you disagree with something: stop supporting it then trying to sue to get your contribution back. just spend some time and do your research ahead of time.

with the death of privacy: it's not like it's hard to find the information you're looking for.

Re:Who would have thought.... (4, Interesting)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 3 years ago | (#34068728)

OTOH, if you make use of a secured storage locker in a public facility you do have some expectation that people walking by are not going to be able to inventory everything you stored there.

Social networking web sites are public storage facilities. Your accounts, being yours and secured by a password, should not be open air cages with mechanical arms for insiders to go sifting through.

Would you use the lockers at the gym if you knew that every moron with an employee badge could go sifting through it or, worse yet, they would accept payments to allow outside third parties to go mining through it?

Re:Who would have thought.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34069558)

There really is a core of people who think that they get to control what other people think about them.

On another forum I read, a woman posted a long rant about the way she had been sexually assaulted in a bar, and no one would take her seriously. When her boyfriend had arrived to meet her and her friends, she had jumped up on the table and pulled her top up to jiggle her tits at him. I imagine anyone familiar with a bar could guess what happened next, the guys sitting at the bar cheered, and the bouncer came over and threw her out. As far as she was concerned though, she was doing that for her boyfriend, the guys sitting at the bar should have known that, and shouldn't have looked. The bouncer had no right to throw her out for a "private" display. Cheering and yelling at her was a sexual assault, throwing her out was a direct violation of her right as a woman to control her own body.

I'd have expected the discussion following her rant to say something about doing things in public leads to the public seeing you do things. Instead, there was a deluge of 20-somethings all yelling about the way nobody takes privacy seriously these days, that it's disgusting how society tolerates such sick individuals and lets them get away with brutal assaults on womens rights, that rape culture means a woman has no control over her own body these days.
Suggesting that doing something in public leads to public consequences got me kicked off the forum as an old white male oppressor. They really did have the idea that other people have a responsibility to maintain your privacy. What's more, from the way she described the situation, it seems other people are supposed to know in advance what your intentions are without being told!

I believe that I can control what I do, and that's where my direct control ends. Unfortunately, I'm increasingly out of step with society. I've had the police called on me for taking photos of a friend in a public street, because a security guard declared that the street front of a building in the background was private, and I had no right to photograph it. (The police disagreed, fortunately.) I get people screaming that they gave all their personal information to a company, and the company *used* it! It seems that privacy is becoming someone else's problem. Anyone else's. Old farts like me can just go and become hermits, which is sounding increasingly attractive.

Whoa, hold on there! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34068102)

I patented sueing them for that, so they will have to give all the money to me!

Class Action (1, Insightful)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 3 years ago | (#34068138)

No "Users" are suing these companies, Lawyers are suing. No User will gain much benefit from the results of the suit, win or lose, lawyers will.

This is nothing but a get rich quick scheme for Lawyers.

Re:Class Action (1)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | more than 3 years ago | (#34068260)

To be fair, it keeps the lawyers busy from doing something even more nefarious, so the user (and society) will gain indirectly. Besides, I think the corporate powers that be need a good, strong kick in the teeth about privacy issues anyway. The fact that it will be delivered by some scum-sucking bottom feeder doesn't bother me in the least.

Re:Class Action (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#34069450)

To be fair, it keeps the lawyers busy from doing something even more nefarious, so the user (and society) will gain indirectly.

I am not sure of that. These are probably lawyers that specialize in class actions like this one, taking advantage of the court's paranoia and ignorance about technology and technology-related issues.

Only a fraction of lawyers are into this specific thing, and this is no distraction for the lawyers who are not.

I think the corporate powers that be need a good, strong kick in the teeth about privacy issues anyway.

That's not how class action suits work. They almost always involve a settlement arrangement, with a very sweet deal for the lawyers, a really crappy deal for the class members, and a sweet deal for the company (they can no longer be sued -- they work out settlements that concede very little, and give them liability protection now and in the future as long as they make practically zero-cost token gestures).

The corporation may even invite the class action in order to give them legal protection going forward and a binding absolution for any past activity, since really, noone / hardly anyone ever bothers to opt out of a class settlement.

Re:Class Action (1)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 3 years ago | (#34068310)

This is nothing but a get rich quick scheme for Lawyers.

I always thought the best class action suit would be against every state and municipality for not making street signs accessible to the blind under the ADA.

Re:Class Action (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#34069532)

I always thought the best class action suit would be against every state and municipality for not making street signs accessible to the blind under the ADA.

It should probably be a bigger issue, that for some reason, they won't even give a blind person a driver's license.

Totally ridiculous, I tell you.... not only do they discriminate against blind people in this way... they actually perform medical tests on you, and discriminate against anyone who has a medical condition of vision poorer than 20/40.

And they really need to do something about the fact the wilderness mountain climbing / hiking trails are not properly wheelchair accessible.

And they don't seem to let any mute singers on the radio, either, even though they are perfectly fluent in sign language, so they should have no trouble gesturing their songs.

Re:Class Action/another one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34070578)

Probably not very popular on this board, but...a mass class action of all software users against all software peddlers for offering products in exchange for money that provide absolutely zero warranty as to suitability of purpose and free from glaring defects.

I, for one, would welcome say...a decade... of no new software enhancements in exchange for a decade of security first and bug smashing for what is already out there, just so this sort of warranty could be applied.

Across the board...some company wants money for their product, "licensed" or not, that doesn't matter, they must provide a minimum warranty and guarantee.

Give it away free, OK, you get what you pay for. The minute you want cash in exchange, let's see the guarantee. Same as any other "product". Demand "patents"? For SURE you should be required to offer the warranty if you sell it, lease it, license it.

The EULA smashing law.

Call it a few trillion dollar class action, and I mean against the giants as well. Places like MS wouldn't be worth billions today if they had to actually work HARD (spend those profits on code review that would make Y2K look like a quickie 15 minute review) to make their products actually secure and suitable for use on the internet. Not to single them out, other big names like Adobe, etc. All of them. And I wouldn't care if it meant a total review of the entire way software is written, compiled, languages used, any of it. It was thrown out there decades ago as very exotic, so they got a lot of slack, but today, software is a well established zillion dollar big business, they should be treated at least with as much consumer warranty type regulation as any other "Product" out there.

I can hear it now "It can't be done" "software would cost a million a copy" and other sorts of rubbish. I don't believe it. When the alternative is drudge work outside for cheap pay harvesting lettuce, or climate controlled sit on your keister and type, for a little bit better money..I know what guys who can type would pick, even if they dropped from six figures to low five figures a year salary, and the price of software reflected what it was worth, not what can be gouged out and foisted on the population because of EULAs and vendor lockin.

Re:Class Action (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 3 years ago | (#34068394)

No "Users" are suing these companies, Lawyers are suing.

A suit seeking certification as a class action must be brought by one or more specific plaintiffs who are members of the class. So it is incorrect to say no users are suing the companies.

As is often the case when people sue other people, the people suing have lawyers working for them.

Re:Class Action (1)

eln (21727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34068486)

Not true. This will probably get settled out of court and all members of the class will be entitled to something very valuable, such as a free packet of seeds or the down payment on a tractor in Farmville.

I always find it funny when I get those notices of class action settlements in the mail: "You might have been screwed over by Company X. Fortunately for you we filed a lawsuit on your behalf and after a confidential settlement you're entitled to $5 off whatever it is Company X sells! Lucky you!"

Re:Class Action (1)

dunng808 (448849) | more than 3 years ago | (#34068848)

This is nothing but a get rich quick scheme for Lawyers.

Same bunch chasing after drug companies, so many ads on TV these days, "Were you or anyone you know injured or killed after taking Dr. Zonk's Elixer?"

A lot in common with patent trolls, waste lots of people's time and money hoping to strike gold.

Re:Class Action (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34070938)

If the companies modify their behavior cause they will get tired of being sued by shark lawyers, how will that not benefit the user? I just want Facebook to respect my privacy, I don't need them to buy me a car.

Facebook shocked, shocked at privacy problems (5, Funny)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 3 years ago | (#34068162)

Facebook staff have been amazed to discover that when Facebook passes users' complete details to application developers and advertisers, some of the partner companies might accidentally let slip the information in some manner.

"We are appalled at this information leak," said Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as he took a break from his personal RSS feed of drunk women's tits posted to his service. "But I can assure you that we have sternly suggested to everyone involved that they take somewhat greater care not to get caught, and maintain a serious demeanor when rolling around in the great big pit filled with money in their basement."

"I'm horrified and outraged," said office worker Brenda Busybody, 43 (IQ), "that stuff I put on the Internet is on the Internet. It violates everything I expect. I want privacy when I'm calling my boss a useless fuckstick to the entire world, all my coworkers and my boss himself. And when I'm playing a bit of FarmVille before we nick off down the pub."

Privacy advocates are working on Diaspora, a security-enhanced social network so far populated by Linux users who cryptographically sign every update about which episode of Babylon 5 they just finished watching alone in their parents' basement. "START PGP KEY BLOCK!" said open source software advocate Hiram Nerdboy, 17. "WE WILL PROTECT YOUR FREEDOMS!" The next version of Diaspora will allow users to list more than three friends, should there be any demand whatsoever for such a feature.

Facebook works on the now-standard "Web 2.0" business model: 1. Brutally sodomise the personal privacy of anyone who comes within a mile of your service and say "hey baby, I'm sorry" every time you're busted. 2. Sell ads.

Image: Abort the fetus, win a Playstation 3! [newstechnica.com]

Re:Facebook shocked, shocked at privacy problems (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34068676)

BEGIN, not START. HTH.

Re:Facebook shocked, shocked at privacy problems (1)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 3 years ago | (#34069356)

Knew I shoulda actually checked.

Re:Facebook shocked, shocked at privacy problems (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071486)

Privacy advocates are working on Diaspora, a security-enhanced social network so far populated by Linux users who cryptographically sign every update about which episode of Babylon 5 they just finished watching alone in their parents' basement

Unfortunately, they aren't. There's no indication from the Diaspora project that anyone with even a basic knowledge of security or cryptography is involved. A social networking protocol designed by paranoid people is exactly what we want, but Diaspora seems to be focussing entirely on the UI.

Re:Facebook shocked, shocked at privacy problems (1)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071638)

Best of both worlds! Oh, and it needs KDE and GNOME interfaces, neither of which contains everything the user would want. I don't know how they'll manage that with a web application, but I'm sure there's nothing open source can't produce.

I didn't know it was so literal! (1)

zero_out (1705074) | more than 3 years ago | (#34068186)

state and federal statues protecting the confidentiality of electronic communications.

I knew that the government was full of gargoyles, but I didn't know it was so literal!

Re:I didn't know it was so literal! (1)

mbkennel (97636) | more than 3 years ago | (#34069718)

"state and federal statues protecting the confidentiality of electronic communications."

Yo! You talking 'bout me? --- Antonin Scalia
Yeah! What he said! --- Clarence Thomas

Privacy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34068188)

Whats that?

Seriously, if you dont want it known, dont put it on the internet.

What (0)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34068214)

They chose to give away their information. This is the fault of the user and no one else.

Not surprising? (2, Insightful)

iONiUM (530420) | more than 3 years ago | (#34068220)

Regardless of the fact that 'things you put on the internet are now public', there is a point that these companies are a little devious in their methods of selling your information. I think mistakes are being made on both sides: users assuming everything is private (I have no idea why), and companies abusing that fact.

I don't think anything will come of this lawsuit except media attention, which will hopefully make users smarten up, thus making this less of an issue.

My $0.02..

Re:Not surprising? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34068520)

users assuming everything is private (I have no idea why)

It's simple, really. Human intuitions about the privacy of their communications developed over the thousands of years before there was an Internet, or even written communication. They're wired that way. So are you, even if on a conscious level you know better. That's why stuff like OTR encryption is so important -- not because you have something to hide, but because it better aligns your intuitions about the confidence of your remarks with reality, and you intuitively know how discreet you need to be.

They all agreed to the TOS (0, Flamebait)

hsmith (818216) | more than 3 years ago | (#34068280)

So, what are they complaining about? Don't want Facebook to harvest your data - pretty easy problem to solve - DON'T USE FACEBOOK.

Agree to their TOS? Well what do you have to complain about? No one forces anyone to signup for Facebook or to use Google

Take some fucking personal responsibility you god damned nitwits.

Re:They all agreed to the TOS (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34068364)

too bad facebook violated the ToS.

You fucking nitwit.

Re:They all agreed to the TOS (4, Insightful)

Vancorps (746090) | more than 3 years ago | (#34068386)

Fantastic and insightful, now the part in TFS even mentions that Facebook in particular violated it's own privacy policy so they aren't even following the TOS that you agreed to. When a site is advertised as a way to share information with just friends and then that information is available to more than your friends then you have some seriously false advertising. Sure people were naive to believe a free service could have enough integrity to do this but it's definitely not as simple as you make it out to be as people are inherently social beings and as such want to extend their network of friends beyond the people they see everyday.

Re:They all agreed to the TOS (1)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 3 years ago | (#34068404)

Take some fucking personal responsibility you god damned nitwits.

I think you missed the point entirely, the point is facebook et al are not following their own policies.

Lumped Together (2, Insightful)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 3 years ago | (#34068354)

In reading TFA there are actually three suits. One against Zynga, one against Zynga and Facebook, and one against Google. The one against Google seems by far the weakest since it alleges that the information that Google anonymizes is being put back togetehr by third parties and then sold. The Zynga and Facebook clims seem to be a straight sale of your personal data. I'd guess the suits against Zynga and Facebook make it further than the one against Google, just because there is a more direct allegation. That plus Google seems to consult with its lawyers before doing things.

Re:Lumped Together (1)

butlerm (3112) | more than 3 years ago | (#34070254)

It is extremely unlikely that any of these plaintiffs claims under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act [wikipedia.org] and the Stored Communications act will hold up, simply because they appear to be completely inapplicable to the sharing of profile information on individuals, anonymized or otherwise.

The laws almost certainly govern disclosure of the contents of person-to-person messages and possibly the contents of some Facebook postings, but I seriously doubt that Facebook et al have been distributing the contents of messages to their advertising partners.

Furthermore there are no laws that appear to restrict the practice of "referrer headers" with Google search. Google search is not a communications service. You communicate with Google, it returns a list of links to click on. When you click on the link you are now communicating with the website, not Google on your behalf. Even if Google were a true intermediary here, disclosure of information about a communication by one of the parties to the communication is not against the law.

It looks like to me these folks are throwing a bunch of dubious claims against the wall and seeing if anything will stick. The likelihood that they will succeed under current law appears to be nonexistent.

Re:Lumped Together (2, Interesting)

jenningsthecat (1525947) | more than 3 years ago | (#34070714)

DON'T USE FACEBOOK.

Yeah, except that at some point that's like saying "DON'T USE THE WEB". These things have a way of becoming necessary for even entry-level participation in society as a whole. I'm not saying Facebook is there yet, but it looks to be heading in that direction. The time to bring the Zuckerbergs of the world to heel is BEFORE we make their services a part of societal infrastructure.

Take some fucking personal responsibility you god damned nitwits.

In some sense, this is like telling people who voted for Gore to take responsibility for Bush's mess. Facebook effectively has a monopoly, for whatever historical reasons, and the people suing are simply serving notice that the practices of this monopoly are unacceptable. It's easy to take the classic Conservative/Libertarian/Anarchist point of view here, but that view is unworkably simplistic and totally ignores the 'whole is greater than the sum of the parts' aspect of society.

Re:Lumped Together (1)

ieatcookies (1490517) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071076)

I always scratch my head when I read comments about how zynga and co sell your data 'cause they're the big bad... A quick search shows zynga making ridiculous money from virtual good sales, completely legal, completely legit. Why would a company that is reportingly earning millions bother to sell data? Not only does it risk it's reputation but it seems to do so for a revenue that would be pale in comparison to it's legit business. I dunno, I just don't see it...but ive been wrong once before.

Of course WSJ blew the whistle on Facebook (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34068370)

Wall Street Journal is part of News Corp, which owns MySpace.

Good luck (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34068410)

I cannot believe that violating an internal privacy policy is actionable in any way. Perhaps they need to change their policy, but the fact is the policy is something the organization came up with and posted. It is not any binding agreement on the organization with their users.

Anyone that believes there are laws against disclosing information to advertisers needs to have a better understanding of how advertising on the Internet works.

<3 * $ = (all evil)^(0.5) (1)

Anomalyx (1731404) | more than 3 years ago | (#34068480)

Even if they did successfully sue and win because my data was sold, I will never see a cent of that money. I think that's even worse than selling the info in the first place. Both are horrible. What has this world come to?

SHOCKING! (1)

sudden.zero (981475) | more than 3 years ago | (#34068630)

You mean my data is unsafe when dumped into the GIANT ABYSS that we all call the world wide web!?! Get a clue loosers!

Re:SHOCKING! (1)

Seriousity (1441391) | more than 3 years ago | (#34069552)

Get a clue loosers!

Stop being so tight with your data :P

lack of privacy was stated (1)

jappleng (1805148) | more than 3 years ago | (#34068666)

The lack of your privacy had always been stated by Facebook, Google, and other companies as far as I know (with the exception of google collecting open-wifi connections). I'm a stickler for privacy but realistically I don't see a reason why anyone has the right to sue a service about privacy when it was stated in their TOA and Privacy Policy to begin with, unless there are certain privacy things that weren't mentioned in it which can be understandable. However, as mentioned many times before, this looks like a ploy to get rich quick for lawyers and I'll bet you anything the coming judge is in on it.

Coincidence? (1)

Cronock (1709244) | more than 3 years ago | (#34068710)

Interestingly enough the newspaper that "blew the whistle" has the same parent company as MySpace, NewsCorp.

Monetary damages (1)

borfast (752138) | more than 3 years ago | (#34068794)

The suits are seeking monetary damages on behalf of potentially millions of users of the three companies.

Cool! I'm a user of google and facebook, so if they win, I'll get some mone... oh, wait...

I simply don't understand how this idiotic flood of lawsuits from everyone suing everyone else is still allowed. I mean, has anyone stopped to think of how much time and money is wasted on stupid cases? Not that this subject isn't important but come on, seeking monetary damages on behalf of the users?! WTF?!

You get what you pay for. (1)

BitterOak (537666) | more than 3 years ago | (#34068896)

It's truly egregious how little Facebook cares for the privacy of what we choose to post on their website. Especially when you consider how much we have to pay to use Facebook. Oh, wait...

The terms are clear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34069048)

Whether you don't read or are retarded, if you accept the terms, you get what you deserve. I mean, what the fuck, people are suing companies just because they're retarded and don't realize how they're paying for their "free" services. Serves them well, I hope they spend lots of $$ in trials. As much as i dislike privacy "invasion", people consent to it and publish all sorts of private details about their lives, so they just deserve to get fucked over.

Good Idea (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34069264)

The bonus part for me is I'm a dual citizen of both the US and Canada and under Canadian law have a constitutional right to Privacy that is continually violated by these guys. And Canada doesn't think Corporations are People. Neither does the EU.

Correction: Lawyers sue... (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 3 years ago | (#34069758)

Users are largely incidental to the business model we're seeing exposed here.

Damn you Tim Berners-Lee (1)

K-Man (4117) | more than 3 years ago | (#34070362)

This is apparently all because HTTP has a referer field (unless the user turns it off in the browser), so clickthroughs on ads have the url you were on when you clicked. FB has lots of urls with user id's in them, which lead to pages with the user's public information, friends, etc. Researchers have already crawled most of these urls without much trouble, but the definition of "giving away private information" seems to have changed a bit under the influence of lawyers.

Nowadays it looks like FB puts ad clickthroughs through a redirect that hides the referer. I suppose the WSJ will discover next that clickthroughs reveal the user's IP address and blame FB for it.

Correction: Lawyers sue... (1)

clint999 (1277046) | more than 3 years ago | (#34070476)

I cannot believe that violating an internal privacy policy is actionable in any way. Perhaps they need to change their policy, but the fact is the policy is something the organization came up with and posted. It is not any binding agreement on the organization with their users.Anyone that believes there are laws against disclosing information to advertisers needs to have a better understanding of how advertising on the Internet works.

audigier news (1)

tomiy (1931644) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071204)

It has been quite popular that the Hollywood stars cooperate with designers of Christian Audigier to release the clothes series.

Ads = $$$ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34071680)

Honestly though, the motivation behind this is pure money-making. As if Zuckerberg & Sons needed even MORE money.

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