Facebook Defeats Privacy Lawsuit Over User Tracking

Facebook has defeated a lawsuit alleging that it violates users' privacy by tracking them throughout the Web via the "Like" button.

U.S. District Court Judge Edward Davila in San Jose ruled that the people who sued lacked "standing" to proceed in court because they hadn't shown how they were injured by any potential privacy violations. The dismissal was without prejudice, meaning that the users can beef up their allegations and try again.

Davila's ruling stemmed from a series of lawsuits dating to 2011, when a group of Web users accused Facebook of violating a host of federal and state laws by collecting data about people through its social widget. The consumers said Facebook gathered data about its users whenever they visited sites with a "Like" button, even if the users were logged out of Facebook at the time.



The people who sued alleged that data about their Web-surfing activity has an economic value.

But Davila wrote that even if that's true, the consumers who brought the lawsuit had not shown they were deprived of the ability to sell data about their Web activity.

"Plaintiffs have not shown," he wrote, "that they personally lost the opportunity to sell their information or that the value of their information was somehow diminished after it was collected by Facebook."

Davila also noted in his ruling that LinkedIn, Specific Media and Google all defeated privacy lawsuits by Web users on the grounds that they didn't show how any potential privacy glitches harmed them.

Facebook is still facing several other privacy lawsuits, including one that centers on the company's use of facial recognition technology. In that matter, users accuse the social networking service of running afoul of an Illinois biometrics privacy law by compiling a database of "faceprints" without first obtaining people's explicit permission.

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