Supreme Court rejects Facebook bid to scale back $15B tracking lawsuit

Supreme Court rejects Facebook bid to scale back $15B tracking lawsuit
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The Supreme Court on Monday rejected Facebook’s appeal to scale back a $15 billion lawsuit that accuses the tech giant of illegally tracking its users' internet activities.

The justices declined to take up Facebook’s appeal of a lower court ruling allowing the class-action lawsuit against the company to move forward.

The lawsuit alleges Facebook violated the Wiretap Act by tracking users’ online activities that utilize features such as the platform's “like” button without their consent between April 2010 and September 2011.

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The plaintiffs argue that the company used plug-ins and cookies to collect data on users before selling it to advertisers, Reuters reported, citing court documents.  

Facebook had appealed to the Supreme Court arguing it did not violate the Wiretap Act, which forbids tracking electronic communications except for those on the sending and receiving ends. The company said its plug-ins meant it was a party to the communications.

“Facebook was not an uninvited interloper to a communication between two separate parties; it was a direct participant,” the company said in a court filing.

The lawsuit also alleged Facebook violated privacy rights. The company did not challenge that accusation in its appeal to the Supreme Court.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals permitted the class action lawsuit to move forward last year after a federal judge originally dismissed it in 2017.

“Facebook’s user profiles would allegedly reveal an individual’s likes, dislikes, interests and habits over a significant amount of time, without affording users a meaningful opportunity to control or prevent the unauthorized exploration of their private lives,” the 9th Circuit said in its ruling.