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Facebook Sued For Violating Wiretap Laws 284

An anonymous reader writes "Facebook is being sued in multiple states for tracking its users even after they logged out of the service. All the lawsuits allege the company violated federal wiretap laws. The most recent lawsuit, filed by a Mississippi woman, says: 'Leading up to September 23, 2011, Facebook tracked, collected, and stored its users’ wire or electronic communications, including but not limited to portions of their internet browsing history even when the users were not logged-in to Facebook. Plaintiff did not give consent or otherwise authorize Facebook to intercept, track, collect, and store her wire or electronic communications, including but not limited to her internet browsing history when not logged-in to Facebook.'"
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Facebook Sued For Violating Wiretap Laws

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  • Re:Dumb Question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Beryllium Sphere(tm) ( 193358 ) on Sunday October 16, 2011 @07:54PM (#37734138) Homepage Journal

    Put a "Like" button on every page they visit and store the Referrer field when the button gets downloaded.

  • by BitterOak ( 537666 ) on Sunday October 16, 2011 @08:19PM (#37734274)

    As much as I dislike Facebook's rampant disregard for users' privacy, this is simply not what the wiretapping law is about. The wiretapping law is meant to cover interception by a third party of communications between two other non-consenting parties. What Facebook did is entirely different. With the consent of certain websites, the cookie mechanism is used to inform Facebook when users visit these sites. Facebook is not intercepting and recording any communications.

    Many of us might not like Facebook, and may see this lawsuit as a victory, but misapplication of federal computer and communication laws sets a dangerous precedent for anyone who uses the Internet. Do something that pisses someone off? The Feds will find a law and twist it to make it fit your actions. If new laws are needed to cover emerging technologies, they should be considered by appropriate legislative and regulatory bodies. Then people can comply with the law or face the consequences. But if laws can be twisted to cover any behavior we don't like, it makes it difficult for anyone to be sure they are in compliance with the law.

  • by Bill Dimm ( 463823 ) on Sunday October 16, 2011 @08:58PM (#37734434) Homepage

    With the consent of certain websites, the cookie mechanism is used to inform Facebook when users visit these sites.

    Is that true? Did the website operators displaying a Facebook "like" button actually know that it allowed their site users to be tracked by Facebook even if the button was not clicked? The tech-savvy ones might have realized that that was a possibility, but I would guess that a lot of website operators put the button on their pages to allow their users to "like" a page, not for the purpose of allowing Facebook to track them. Car analogy: If I give my car keys to a mechanic to change the car's oil, that doesn't mean I've consented to having him install a GPS tracker so he can monitor me.

  • Re:Dumb Question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Sunday October 16, 2011 @09:09PM (#37734500)
    That is correct as far as it goes. But the problem there is that you have no way to know, ahead of time, what sites might have Like buttons and what sites not. By the time the page is downloaded, and you see the Like button there, it already has you tracked.

    Currently, the only way to prevent that is to use a script blocker to block Facebook's javascript from running. Which I do. But it's not a satisfactory solution... they should only be able to track you if you give your explicit permission. What they are doing now is sneaky and unethical, given that most people don't even know they're doing it.
  • Re:Dumb Question (Score:3, Insightful)

    by psiclops ( 1011105 ) on Sunday October 16, 2011 @10:51PM (#37735010)

    i could wear a suit of armour to prevent injury from someone stabbing me.

    that does not mean that someone should not be charged for stabbing me.

  • Re:sorry no (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Monday October 17, 2011 @12:40AM (#37735550) Homepage

    The best way to crack down on advertising is perhaps not to block it but to force total truth in advertising. No lies, no exaggerations, no false associations, no people recommending who do not provide proof on continued use of the product and required warnings for any known problems with the product to be included in the adds.

    Adds should be restricted to informing people about a product, not about manipulating people especially children, not about false product qualities, not about people lying about using the product and, in fact not about anything that company can not prove to be true about the product.

  • Re:Dumb Question (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Monday October 17, 2011 @03:42AM (#37736268)
    You are correct about the other software solutions, but I disagree with you about that being "the only reasonable solution". I disagree very much. I don't believe it is ethical at all for someone to compile personal data about my communications without my knowledge or consent, much less peddle that data to others.

The Force is what holds everything together. It has its dark side, and it has its light side. It's sort of like cosmic duct tape.