March 24, 2021
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday turned away Facebook’s push to pare back a $15 billion class action lawsuit accusing the company of illegally tracking the activities of internet users even when they are logged out of the social media platform.
The justices declined to hear Facebook’s appeal of a lower court ruling that revived the proposed nationwide litigation accusing the company of violating a federal law called the Wiretap Act by secretly tracking the visits of users to websites that use Facebook features such as the “like” button.
The litigation also accuses the company of violating the privacy rights of its users under California law but Facebook’s appeal to the Supreme Court involved only the Wiretap Act.
The Wiretap Act prohibits eavesdropping on electronic communications, but exempts people who are parties to the communication – the designated sender or receiver of the information.
A federal judge dismissed the case in 2017 but the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2020 revived it, allowing the Wiretap Act and state privacy claims to go ahead.