Facebook Seeks Dismissal Of BrandTotal's Counterclaims In Battle Over Data

Facebook is asking a federal judge to throw out claims by analytics company BrandTotal, which alleges that Facebook interfered with BrandTotal's contracts and engaged in unfair competition by taking steps to block its access to data.

“Facebook did nothing more than enforce its own terms,” the social networking service says in papers filed Monday with U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Spero in San Francisco.

Facebook adds that BrandTotal “built a business around violating Facebook’s Terms of Service and Instagram’s Terms of Use,” which prohibit the automated collection of data from its platforms.

The legal dispute between the two companies dates to October 1, when Facebook alleged that BrandTotal's UpVoice browser extension -- which enables data collection -- violated the social networking platform's terms of service, and ran afoul of a federal anti-hacking law. Facebook also took steps to ban the extension from the platform, and demanded that Google remove UpVoice from the Chrome Web Store.



Two weeks later, BrandTotal countersued Facebook, alleging that it interfered with BrandTotal's contracts and engaged in unfair competition, among other claims.

BrandTotal also sought a declaratory judgment that it didn't violate Facebook's terms of service; BrandTotal contended its data collection is not “automated,” because users decide whether to allow the UpVoice extension to gather data.

BrandTotal, which says it pays users to install the UpVoice extension, also sought a temporary restraining order requiring Facebook to stop blocking BrandTotal, and to rescind the takedown notice sent to Google.

Earlier this month, Spero denied BrandTotal's request for the restraining order.

Facebook is now asking Spero to dismiss BrandTotal's counterclaims.

The social networking platform argues that BrandTotal violated the terms of service, contending that UpVoice's collection of ad-related data was “automated” by the ordinary and “reasonable meaning” of the word.

Facebook also argues that BrandTotal's allegations, even if true, would not prove its other claims, including that Facebook intentionally interfered with BrandTotal's contracts.

“BrandTotal failed to plead facts sufficient to show that Facebook had the requisite intent to interfere with BrandTotal’s contracts, or that blocking BrandTotal’s access to Facebook’s networks caused the actual breach or disruption of those contracts,” Facebook writes.

The company adds that it was “justified in taking steps to enforce its terms,” arguing that its moves against BrandTotal were consistent with its $5 billion consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission.

“The consent decree sets out Facebook’s legal obligations in instances in which user data from 500 or more users is accessed or collected in violation of Facebook’s terms,” the company writes. “Because BrandTotal collected information from individual users ... Facebook will report BrandTotal’s conduct to the FTC.”

BrandTotal is expected to respond to Facebook's argument by December 7.

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