(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.”
On June 12, 2014 the Attorney General issued a revised opinion about filing consumer lawsuits on behalf of the consumers of the State of Texas for the “public good.” This evening I met with a client who had no remedy through the District Attorney or a private lawsuit to remedy a terrible injustice she experienced over several transactions for tens of thousands of dollars. Many times clients come in and want to be heard and hope that there can be some way to bring a lawsuit or criminal case for damages or restitution. The first thing I usually hear is that “I don’t want this to happen to anyone else.” It is rewarding when there is an answer to the clients question when there is the possibility of filing something that will allow them a chance at restitution or a damages award. In many cases there may not be such a possibility. Filing your complaint at the Attorney General’s Office starts the process into the Attorney General’s investigation into a company’s business practices.