Facebook sued for allegedly violating US wiretap law

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Facebook is being sued for allegedly violating US wiretap laws, reports The Register. The legal action was filed by a woman in Mississippi, Brooke Rutledge, who says the social network violated her right to privacy by tracking her Internet browsing history after she logged-out of the website. Rutledge has also accused Facebook of breach of contract, unjust enrichment, trespassing and invasion of privacy.

“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,” reads Rutledge’s complain, which was filed in the northern district of Mississippi last Wednesday. “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.”

According to the lawsuit, for which Rutledge seeks class action status, Facebook carried out the purported violations through the use of a “super-cookie,” which was discovered by Australian blogger Nik Cubrilovic late last month after Facebook announced its new “frictionless sharing” feature, which will allow users to share any activity they do online through the social network.

Facebook has denied claims that the cookie (a file automatically placed on a user’s computer by a website) does not track users after they log out, but instead is used simply to correctly determine users’ identities for security purposes, and to block a variety of malicious web attacks.

Despite these claims, use of the cookie prompted privacy advocates and members of Congress to call on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Facebook over the use of the cookie. 

Facebook has long been criticized for its cavalier approach to user privacy. The social network has not yet commented on Rutledge’s accusations.

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