Facebook is in trouble again. And this time around, it is going to be a legal tussle. A U.S. District Court in California ruled on Wednesday that a lawsuit be brought against the networking site for breaching users’ privacy by scanning the content of messages for advertising purposes.
The U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton in Oakland, California, dismissed two relatively minor allegations against the company but continued to hold the Zuckerberg owned network responsible for violating user privacy.
Judge Hamilton denied Facebook’s bid to dismiss the lawsuit, which was filed by Facebook users Matthew Campbell and Michael Hurley in 2013. The suit accuses the networking site of reading the private messages ex changed by users over the site so that they could serve them ads suited to their tastes and preferences. And they carried on this till October 2012. The complaint alleges that this violated the federal and state privacy laws by “reading its users’ personal [and] private Facebook messages without their consent.”
Facebook , on its part, had tried to defend its act by claiming that the scanning of the messages of the users was covered by an exception under the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act for interceptions by service providers occurring in the ordinary course of business. They claim they must ‘handle the content’ to ensure that the messages are delivered which is not, according to them, possible without intercepting them.
Not only that, the scans were part of the ordinary business practice which is why it would be unfair to invite legal action on the company for doing so. to top it all, the practice had been discontinued more than two years back. Owing to all these reasons, argued the company’s lawyers, the case against them should not proceed at all.
But the judge said that the site had “not offered a sufficient explanation of how the challenged practice falls within the ordinary course of its business.” The judge also observed that the networking site discontinued this practice in October 2012, though Facebook says it still does analyze some of the messages to protect against viruses and spam, the ruling said.