While unlikely to dampen interest in Facebook’s first day of public trading, the company has been hit with a $15 billion class-action lawsuit.
Representing a number of Facebook’s users, the suit claims that it invaded their privacy by tracking their Web usage -- ironically, exactly how investors expect Facebook’s to further monetize its service.
“As a public company, Facebook will be expected to grow its advertising revenues very rapidly, putting it under considerable pressure to collect more and more user data to help it target its ads,” The Telegraph reports.
“If the claimants are successful in their case against Facebook, they could prevent Menlo Park from collecting the huge amount of data it collects about its users to serve ads back to them,” ZDNet writes.
And, that’s exactly what the law firms are after. “This is not just a damages action, but a groundbreaking digital-privacy rights case that could have wide and significant legal and business implications,” David Straite, a partner at Stewarts Law -- one of the firms leading the case -- told Bloomberg News.
Already, “Facebook … has been scrutinized by regulators in the U.S. and Europe over how it protects users’ private data,” Bloomberg reminds us.
Like the previous lawsuits, Facebook is being accused of violating the Federal Wiretap Act, which provides statutory damages per user of $100 per day per violation, up to a maximum per user of $10,000.
The complaint also asserts claims under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the Stored Communications Act, various California Statutes and California common law.
Yet, as ZDNet adds: “It’s worth noting that similar cases against Facebook and others filed under the wiretap law have been thrown out because browser cookies are simply not considered wiretaps and plaintiffs have difficulty proving any harm.”