Appeals Court Greenlights Privacy Suit Over Facebook’s Invasive Web Tracking

April 9, 2020

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that Facebook users whose privacy was violated by Facebook's tracking of web browsing can bring suit against the social media platform. The court held that consumers had the legal right, or "standing," to sue Facebook and that most legal claims could go forward. Chief Judge Sidney Thomas wrote "that Facebook set an expectation that logged-out user data would not be collected, but then collected it anyway." EPIC filed an amicus brief in the case explaining that "Facebook's tracking techniques are designed to escape detection, and the company routinely ignores users' privacy protections." EPIC argued that Facebook's "cookie tracking practices" cause "harm to the privacy of the large and diffuse group of Facebook users." EPIC first identified the privacy risks of cookie tracking in a 1997 report "Surfer Beware: Personal Privacy and the Internet." EPIC frequently participates as amicus curiae in consumer privacy cases, including United States v. Facebook, Attias v. Carefirst, Frank v. Gaos, and Rosenbach v. Six Flags.

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