Facebook and Zynga Games Privacy Class Actions Dismissed

business litigation attorney Atlanta

business litigation attorney Atlanta Earlier this month, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court’s dismissal of two privacy class action lawsuits against social media juggernaut Facebook and Zynga Game Network Inc.  Both class action suits alleged violations of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act—specifically the Wiretap Act and the Stored Communications Act sections.  Plaintiffs alleged that the social network and video game company exchanged private customer data, including Facebook names and URLs, with advertisers without informing consumers.  The case arises from practices by Facebook, whereby when a Facebook user clicked on a Zynga icon or advertisement, a record of that Facebook user’s identification and URL would be automatically sent from Facebook to Zynga.  Facebook also allegedly entered into similar relationships with other advertisers.   The Ninth Circuit’s three-judge panel dismissed the users’ claims because the users failed to meet all of the requirements sufficient to demonstrate a violation of the U.S. Electronic Communications Privacy Act.  Specifically, the court found that Facebook user names and ISPs were not “content” under the act.  Accordingly, the plaintiffs could not show that Facebook or Zynga had actually disclosed the content of communications to third parties.   However, Facebook is not off the hook on privacy lawsuits in the immediate future.  A lower court in California, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco, revived claims of a similar nature against Facebook just a few days later.  The case before the lower court concerns breach of the end user agreement, constituting consumer fraud.  Users are alleging that the social media network disclosed private information when Facebook users clicked on advertisements and sold that information to third party advertisers.  Facebook has since changed its end user agreements.   If your business is contemplating sharing customer or consumer data with others, or you believe your own data has been compromised, you need a smart, experienced business litigation attorney to represent your interests. James J. “Jim” Thomas II has more than 35 years of experience advising Georgia businesses and handling complex business litigation including intellectual property matters.  Jim can help you with the analysis, evaluation, and resolution of existing and potential litigation including in intellectual property disputes. Visit www.litigationatlanta.com online, or give Jim a call at 404-869-5248 to set up a free consultation.

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