Facebook Sued Over Location Tracking

Facebook surreptitiously stores information about users' locations, even when users attempt to stop the company from logging location data, a California resident alleges in a new lawsuit.

“Facebook secretly tracks, logs, and stores location data for all of its users -- including those who have sought to limit the information about their locations that Facebook may store in its servers by choosing to turn Location History off,” Brett Heeger alleges in a class-action complaint filed Friday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Heeger specifically alleges that Facebook stores records of users' “estimated locations,” inferred from their IP addresses, as well as data gleaned from data about WiFi connections. The complaint includes claims that Facebook's alleged IP-logging violates the federal wiretap law and California privacy laws.



Heeger alleges that he attempted to configure his privacy settings to prevent Facebook from tracking or storing his location, but says Facebook nevertheless “continued to track and store his private location information.”

He adds that users can only learn of Facebook's “secret tracking” by downloading their data from the service and then scouring “multiple levels of obscure folders.” He says the information is in subfolders labeled “security_and_login_information,” “login_protection_data,” and “where_you’re_logged_in.”

“Facebook’s conduct is contrary to users’ reasonable expectations of privacy,” his complaint states. “The average consumer understands that turning Location History off has a purpose and an effect: to limit Facebook from tracking, logging, and storing location information.”

A Facebook spokesperson says the lawsuit is "without merit" and that the company will defend itself. "Our Data Policy and related disclosures explain our practices relating to location data and provide information about the privacy settings we make available," the spokesperson says.

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