Facebook Agrees To Settle Battle Over Location Privacy

Facebook has agreed to settle allegations that it collected users' IP addresses, which offer general information about people's locations, in violation of statements in its prior privacy policy.

News of the settlement was disclosed this week in court papers filed with U.S. District Court Judge James Donato in San Francisco. Settlement terms haven't yet been disclosed.

If finalized, the deal will end litigation dating to 2018, when several users including Brendan Lundy and Myriah Watkins alleged that Facebook collected their IP addresses, which provided estimated locations, then deployed “enhanced tracking methodologies” to more precisely pinpoint geolocation.

Lundy, Watkins and other users raised a host of claims against Facebook, including that it allegedly violated its prior privacy policy.



Between 2015 and April of 2018, that policy said Facebook wouldn't collect location data without users' consent. In April of 2018, Facebook revised its policy to disclose that it collects people's IP addresses, which can offer broad information about users' locations (such as their cities), but not necessarily precise data.

Facebook urged Donato to dismiss the claims for several reasons. Among other arguments, Facebook contended that Lundy, Watkins and the others couldn't show they were harmed by the alleged data collection.

“None of the plaintiffs actually allege that they were ever in a city that they wanted to keep confidential from Facebook, much less that Facebook in fact identified that city while a plaintiff was there,” the company argued in a February 2021 motion. “This renders the assertion of harm entirely speculative.”

Last September, Donato rejected Facebook's argument and allowed the lawsuit to proceed.

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