Facebook Privacy Plaintiffs Attempt To Consolidate Tracking Cookie Lawsuits

Following concerns that were raised over Facebook‘s use of cookies to allegedly track users’ Web browsing activity even after they had logged out, several lawsuits have been filed against Facebook in recent weeks over privacy matters. Now, a group of 7 plaintiffs have filed a motion with the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to consolidate 11 privacy class action suits against the company and transfer them to a single federal court in San Jose, Calif.

The first case that was filed against Facebook alleged federal wiretapping and computer fraud claims against Facebook. The suit was filed in California on Sept. 30 and since then at least 10 other lawsuits have been filed in other states, including Mississippi.

“Already, we have 11 cases in 10 different courts alleging similar facts and similar causes of action. It is possible that others will be filed,” said David Straite, an attorney who is representing the plaintiffs. “Consolidating these cases and transferring them to San Jose is in the best interest of the class and judicial efficiency.”

Facebook’s alleged use of cookies to monitor its users’ Web browsing habits — even after they had logged out of the social network — was uncovered by entrepreneur Nik Cubrilovic last month. He claimed that Facebook’s tracking cookies were altered, rather than deleted, when you logged out of the social network, meaning that whenever you visited a website that contains a Facebook widget, certain personal information (for instance, your Facebook account ID) was being sent back to the social network even when you were not logged in to Facebook.

A Facebook engineer responded to Cubrilovic’s claims, saying that Facebook does not track browsing habits using cookies and that the logged out cookies are primarily used for safety and security protections. A few days after Cubrilovic made his findings public, Facebook had resolved the matter by destroying the cookies that remained after you logged out.

Facebook has come under criticism for how it handles user privacy on several occasions this year. In June, the social network was investigated by data protection officials over its facial recognition system. George Jepsen, attorney general of Connecticut, also raised concerns before Facebook made it easier to opt-out of the Tag Suggestions feature that the facial recognition system powers.

Meanwhile, the social network came under fire on several occasions in Germany. Politicians called for parties that were organized on Facebook to be banned, before the company was threatened with legal action related to the facial recognition system. State institutions in Schleswig-Holstein were ordered to delete their Facebook pages and remove the Like button from their websites to stop them from sending data to Facebook. However, Facebook agreed a voluntary code of conduct with Germany over the privacy concerns last month.

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