X Corp. Defeats Claim That Ad-Targeting Slip-Up Violated Washington State Law

In a victory for X Corp., formerly Twitter, a federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit claiming the company violated a Washington state law by asking users to provide contact information in order to safeguard their accounts, but then harnessing that information for ad targeting.

In a ruling issued Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Mary Dimke in the Eastern District of Washington said the allegations in the complaint, even if proven true, wouldn't establish that the tech company violated Washington's anti-pretexting law. That statute prohibits people from using “fraudulent, deceptive, or false means” to obtain telephone records of state residents.

Dimke's ruling stemmed from a lawsuit brought in April 2022 by state resident Glen Morgan, who alleged that he gave his cell phone number to Twitter after it promised to protect nonpublic information in his account.

X Corp. disclosed in 2019 that users' phone numbers and email addresses were mistakenly incorporated into an ad platform that allows companies to use their own marketing lists to target ads on Twitter. Separately from Morton's lawsuit, the revelations separately sparked a Federal Trade Commission complaint that resulted in a $150 million fine.



X Corp. urged Dimke to dismiss Morgan's complaint for several reasons. Among other arguments, the company argued merely obtaining a user's phone number from him or her doesn't violate the state pretexting law, which refers to telephone “records.”

“If the legislature meant for 'telephone record' to include something as basic as the user’s own number, it surely would have said as much,” X Corp. wrote in a motion filed in June.

Dimke agreed, writing that the pretexting law “is plainly focused on protecting the consumer’s call history data.”

She dismissed the complaint with prejudice -- meaning that Morgan can't amend the allegations and bring them again.

Morgan is appealing the decision to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

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