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Blockbuster gets legal poke for Facebook Tupperware campaign

Beacon Borking

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

A woman in Texas is sueing Blockbuster for using Facebook's controversial "Beacon" advertising system to reveal to her friends which movies she rented.

Cathryn Elaine Harris' suit, filed 9 April, claims the video rental outfit breached the federal Video Privacy Protection Act when it participated in Beacon. She is seeking class action status, AP reports.

Beacon works by tracking what purchases Facebook members make on outside websites, including Blockbuster's. It then reports what they bought to the members' Facebook friends in the hope that it'll be viewed as a "trusted recommendation" - essentially a digital Tupperware party.

It was greeted with an outcry from privacy advocates that forced the social network to ask users whether they want to opt-in, rather than offer an obscure opt-out.

Blockbuster denies wrongdoing. "Our alliance with Facebook included numerous levels of privacy protection built in for our online subscribers," a spokesman said.

The complaint, meanwhile, charges: "To this day, however, Facebook still receives personally identifiable information from participating websites. To this day, Blockbuster Online members remain unsuspecting victims."

It's not know what Harris' friends learned about her video habits.

The Video Privacy Protection Act was introduced after a newspaper obtained the dull and judge-like rental history of Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork in the 1980s. ®

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