Judge Won't Force Facebook To Lift Block On BrandTotal

A federal judge has rejected analytics company BrandTotal's request for a court order requiring Facebook to allow access to its site.

U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero in the Northern District of California, who denied BrandTotal's request on Monday, hasn't yet released a written opinion in the case.

The dispute between BrandTotal and Facebook dates to October 1, when Facebook alleged in a lawsuit that BrandTotal violated the social networking platform's terms of service, and ran afoul of a federal anti-hacking law, by scraping data from Facebook.

Facebook also took steps to ban BrandTotal's UpVoice browser extension -- which enabled the data collection -- from the platform, and demanded that Google remove UpVoice from the Chrome Web Store.

BrandTotal countered that its users explicitly consented to the data collection, and were paid for downloading the extension. The company requested a court order that would have required Facebook to lift the block, and to rescind the takedown notice sent to Google.

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BrandTotal -- which said it “stands on the brink of collapse” as a result of Facebook's actions -- alleged last month that Facebook acted anti-competitively by “unfairly leveraging its power in the social networking market to secure an anticompetitive advantage in the data analytics market.”

For its part, Facebook argued that the extension raised privacy concerns, particularly in households where people shared computers.

“Once defendants’ UpVoice extension had been installed, the extension automatically collected data, including non-public data, from password-protected locations when the user visited Facebook,” the company writes. “This creates a risk that whenever anyone using that browser -- including family members or roommates using a shared computer -- accesses Facebook (or another website defendants targeted for scraping) they would unwittingly have their data scraped as well.”

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