Facebook and their parent company, Meta Platforms, have agreed a settlement in an ongoing case. The decade-long multi district litigation alleged the company unlawfully tracked users’ browsing activity even while they were logged out of the site.
The dispute started when dozens of lawsuits were filed in states all over the country. They were consolidated into California federal court but was dismissed in June 2017 by U.S. District Judge. However, in April 2020 it was revived following an appeal which said users could try to prove that the Company profited unjustly and violated their privacy.
The Company attempted to persuade the Supreme Court to weigh in on the case and denied any wrongdoing. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the revival of the dispute in which the Company asserted that the decision threatened to unfairly expose online companies to sweeping liability for “routine business activity”. According to settlement papers, the Company decided to settle to avoid the costs and risks of going to trial.
If the settlement is approved it would be among the 10 largest data privacy class settlements in US history.
The deal would provide relief to a nationwide class of Facebook users. They had active accounts between April 22, 2010 and September 26, 2011. Their internet use was tracked while they were logged out despite having only consented to be tracked while logged in.
The Company would need to establish a non-reversionary settlement fund of $90 million to be distributed equally among the class members. They will also need to sequester and delete all data that was wrongfully collected.
The judge is yet to approve the settlement.
Getting privacy wrong can be costly. Don’t get caught out.