(1) Just as Facebook’s IPO has hit the market with full force, the company has been hit with a $15 billion nationwide class action tracking cookie lawsuit. The company has been logging users of its social network even after logging out as well as violating federal wiretap laws. (2)

Presently, the lawsuit filed in the Federal Court in San Jose, California, brings together twenty-one individual nationwide cases from 2011 and early 2012. (3) The amended consolidated complaint alleges that Facebook is engaged in unethical invasion of privacy of users by tracking them across the World Wide Web. If the claimants are successful in their case against Facebook, Menlo Park would consequently be prevented from securing user data upon which they depend to generate personalized ads back to them.

If this sounds familiar, it is no surprise. Facebook was hit with lawsuits in the past for violating the Federal Wiretap Act which “provides statutory damagers per user of $100 per day per violation, up to a maximum per user of $10,000.” (4) Also included in the complaint is the company’s violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the Stored Communications Act, numerous California statutes, and California common law. (5) A recent Mediapost reports that past lawsuits filed under the wiretap law were thrown out because the court ruled that “browser cookies are simply not considered wiretaps and plaintiffs have difficulty proving any harm.”


According to David Straite, a partner of Stewarts Law which is one of the firms heading the claim, “This is not just a damages action, but a groundbreaking digital-privacy rights case that could have wide and significant legal and business implications.” Menlo Park has both twice denied allegations when Facebook was accused of using cookies to monitor and track user activity after they log out of the service and has twice acted to fix the issue. Despite this, lawsuits still keep coming up. In additional to national lawsuits, several have been filed in individual states, including Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi. (6) According to the article, Menlo Park defends that it does not track users across the Web and its cookies are used to personalize content. As for the logged-out cookies, Facebook said they are used for safety and protection.

However, after doing some research, USA Today’s Byron Acohido shares that to keep track of its 800 million plus users, Facebook records your name, email address(es), friends, and all other information YOU put out there in your Facebook profile. In addition, ALL activity is logged for a minimum of 90 days at which time the information gets purged – although don’t be surprised to later find out that EVERYTHING is archived and NOTHING gets purged…EVER. In addition, all unique features that identify your personal computer are also recorded and stored.

So, the next time you post, comment, like, chat, or engage in any activity on Facebook, consider the price you’re paying: LOSS OF PERSONAL PRIVACY. Is it worth the hefty price tag? You be in the judge. In the meantime, stay tuned for updates on the situation, and always make sure that if nothing else, you are not in the “dark” because you just might be in for a very rude awakening…when it’s too late.


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Carl Shaw

Having over 20 years in law enforcement and having played a pivotal role in some of the nation’s most visible landmark cases, Carl Shaw has earned the recognition and respect of the legal community and his clients as a capable and compassionate attorney who will not flinch in the face of opposition.

Website: www.shawlawtexas.com

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