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Father Urges Court to Strike Down Facebook's $20 Million Privacy Settlement

Father Urges Court to Strike Down Facebook's $20 Million Privacy Settlement
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Parents post photos of their kids every day on Facebook. It’s safe to assume most don’t expect the social network to then collect these images, and use them in its ads.

But according to a class-action case brought against the company in 2011, that’s exactly what happened when Facebook took data and images from users under 18 and used them in “Sponsored Story” ads. The company subsequently settled a class-action suit for $20 million -- each member who filed a claim received $15 -- and updated its privacy policy to give users more information about how their data can be used in its ads.

Related: These 3 Baby Photos Mark Zuckerberg Shared on Facebook Will Melt Your Heart

While U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg granted final approval to the settlement in 2013, that failed to settle the issue in the eyes of many parents, including Michael Depot.

Depot, whose kids’ pictures were used in Facebook’s “Sponsored Story” ads without his knowledge or permission, is pressing the Ninth Circuit to block the settlement on the grounds that it is illegal under California law, Law360 reports.

For the record, Facebook’s terms and conditions give the social network permission to include users’ data for advertising purposes. Per the terms of the settlement, Facebook added the following:

If you are under the age of eighteen (18), or under any other applicable age of majority, you represent that at least one of your parents or legal guardians has also agreed to the terms of this section (and the use of your name, profile picture, content, and information) on your behalf.

Under California law, Depot says, children are prohibited from delegating their rights to anyone other than their parents, making Facebook’s added language unlawful.

“The settlement agreement purports to delegate to Facebook unfettered power to take information posted by a child, package it, and transmit it in any form and to potentially millions of recipients and for any commercial purpose, as Facebook determines,” Depot told Law360.

The Ninth Circuit recently upheld Seeborg’s 2013 ruling, finding that the settlement doesn’t authorize Facebook to act illegally.

However, that hasn’t stopped Depot or his legal team, including lawyer Robert Fellmeth, from urging the Ninth Circuit to reconsider.

"If this decision stands, it will have long standing consequences all of the justices will regret,” Fellmeth told Law360.

Related: Facebook Updates Its Privacy Policy, But Does That Mean Anything? 
 
 
Edition: December 2016

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