Judge Allows Privacy Lawsuit Against Path To Proceed


Mobile app developer Path has lost its bid to dismiss a lawsuit accusing it of violating users' privacy by uploading their address books.

Path argued that the case should be dismissed on the theory that users didn't suffer any economic harm. But U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled last week that Path user Oscar Hernandez sufficiently alleged injury by asserting he would have to pay as much as $12,500 to remove Path's "tracking software."

Path argued that deleting the code was "a simple act requiring no more than two swipes of [Hernandez's] finger on his phone." But Rogers said that for now, she had to accept Hernandez's allegation that it could cost up to five figures to remove the code. Presumably Rogers will revisit that decision if Hernandez is unable to prove that deleting the software would cost anything.

The lawsuit, pending in the Northern District of California, is one of two potential class-actions stemming from revelations that Path uploaded users' address books without telling them. The other case is pending in federal court in Austin, Texas.

Hernandez filed suit in April, when he alleged that Path violated a host of federal and state laws, including statutes dealing with wiretaps, computer crime and unfair competition laws. Rogers said that Hernandez sufficiently alleged that Path violated California's law regarding computer crimes as well as its law banning unfair competition.

Most of the other counts -- including allegations that Path violated the federal wiretap law -- were dismissed, but Rogers said that Hernandez could beef up the allegations and refile them.

Path isn't the only company to allegedly upload users' contacts without users' permission. Mobile app developer Hipster also allegedly did the same. Other companies, including Twitter, allegedly downloaded users' address books without making it clear that the data would be stored.


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