Facebook lawsuits sent to SF federal court 

click to enlarge A series of class-action lawsuits have been consolidated in San Francisco federal court. - SF EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • SF Examiner file photo
  • A series of class-action lawsuits have been consolidated in San Francisco federal court.


A series of class-action lawsuits contending that the popular social networking site Facebook illegally tracked members’ Internet activity on other websites has been moved to a federal court in San Francisco.

At issue are claims that Facebook users had their personal information tracked, collected and stored by the website, including portions of their Internet browsing history even when they were not logged in to Facebook. The lawsuits claim violations of the federal Wiretap Act and other laws, as well as of Facebook’s own privacy policy.

For instance, a lawsuit filed in Mississippi alleges that Facebook used “cookies” to track a plaintiff’s Internet activity while she was logged off of the site, including on websites of The New York Times and The Washington Post, causing those sites to violate their own privacy policies. Facebook used the information for either third-party sales or knowledge of its own users’ behavior without their consent, the suit alleged.

An order earlier this month by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation sent 11 federal lawsuits filed last year in 10 districts against the Menlo Park-based company to the Northern District of California. Represented are suits from Alabama, Arizona, California, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi and Texas.

The panel noted in its Feb. 8 decision that it had been made aware of an additional nine potentially related actions filed in San Francisco, and another six in Arkansas, Hawaii, Montana, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Washington.

The lawsuits have been consolidated under the title “Facebook Internet Tracking Litigation.” The Judicial Panel declined a request by Facebook attorneys to call it “Facebook Cookies Litigation,” saying that “would imply an unduly restrictive scope on this litigation.”

Attorneys for the company were not immediately available for comment Monday.

Facebook, which claims 483 million daily active users as of December 2011, has a self-described mission “to make the world more open and connected.”

aburack@sfexaminer.com

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Ari Burack

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