On Thursday, a federal appeals court revived nationwide litigation accusing Facebook of violating users’ privacy rights by tracking their Internet activity even after they logged out of the social media website.
The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco announced that Facebook users could pursue several claims under federal and California privacy and wiretapping laws.
A Facebook spokeswoman mentioned that the proposed class action was without merit, and the Menlo Park, California-based company will continue defending itself.
Facebook users had accused the company of quietly storing cookies on their browsers that tracked when they visited outside websites containing “like” buttons and then selling personal profiles based on their browsing histories to advertisers.
Edward Davila, a US District Judge in San Jose, California had dismissed the lawsuit in 2017, including claims under the federal Wiretap Act, and said the users lacked legal standing to pursue economic damages claims.
In Thursday’s decision, Chief Judge Sidney Thomas wrote for a three-judge panel that users had a reasonable expectation of privacy, and had sufficiently alleged a “clear invasion” of their right to privacy.
Thomas wrote that “Facebook’s user profiles would allegedly reveal an individual’s likes, dislikes, interests, and habits over a significant amount of time, without affording users meaningful opportunity to control or prevent the unauthorized exploration of their private lives.”
He also said the plaintiffs “plausibly alleged that Facebook set an expectation that logged-out user data would not be collected, but then collected it anyway.”