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Appeals Court Rules Facebook Must Face Renewed Privacy Lawsuit

Elliot Setzer
Wednesday, April 15, 2020, 1:22 PM

Published by The Lawfare Institute
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The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on April 9 ruled that the Facebook users could pursue several wiretap and privacy claims against the company. The plaintiffs allege that Facebook tracked logged-out users’ internet activity by storing cookies on their browsers when they visited outside websites containing Facebook plug-ins and then sold personal profiles based on that data to advertisers.

Chief Justice Sidney Thomas wrote for a three-judge panel that users had a reasonable expectation of privacy and sufficiently alleged a clear invasion of their right to privacy, granting them standing to pursue their claims under the Wiretap Act and the California Invasion of Privacy Act. The panel also wrote that California law recognizes a legal interest in unjustly earned profits. The panel rejected Facebook’s argument that it was a “party” to the communication and thus covered by exemptions from liability contained in both statutes.

You can read the decision here and below:

Elliot Setzer is a Knight-Hennessy Scholar at Stanford Law School and a Ph.D student at Yale University. He previously worked at Lawfare and the Brookings Institution.

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