Feeds

Supreme Court WON'T review Facebook's Beacon settlement

We're going to set up a nonprofit privacy group instead of paying off users... bitch

Boost IT visibility and business value

The US Supreme Court has decided to let Facebook's settlement of the Beacon privacy lawsuit stand, despite complaints from users that starting a non-profit privacy rights group didn't benefit the millions of plaintiffs.

In his written opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts said he agreed with the appeals court's decision to let the settlement go through, although he said he was concerned about the growing use of this kind of deal in class action suits.

Facebook users sued after public outcry over the now-defunct Beacon feature, which transmitted details of people making transactions on other websites to Facebook even if they weren't users of the social network. If the person did turn out to be a user, Facebook then published the activity in their profile and broadcast it to their friends' network. To stop that from happening, users had about 10 seconds to opt out by clicking in a pop-up window that appeared when they made the transaction.

Faced with public indignation, the social network quickly backed down and agreed to settle the case for $9.5m. Around $3m of that was to be used to pay the lawyers, but the rest was allocated to set up a not-for-profit group which would focus on online privacy rights, after it was decided that the amount of money each user would get was too little to be bothered about distributing it. This type of settlement is known as a cy pres settlement - an “as near as” form of relief.

The plaintiffs appealed the ruling, first to the appeals court and then to the Supreme Court, saying among other things that the settlement didn't give anything of value to users who had been affected by Beacon and that it was too low. One plaintiff, Megan Marek, also pointed out that a senior Facebook employee would be on the board of the new group and the board would have very few limitations on how it decided to spend the money.

Roberts said that the Facebook case might not allow the Supreme Court to look into "fundamental concerns" about cy pres settlements, like whether they should ever be considered and how to judge their fairness. He added that if a suitable case came up, the court could "clarify the limits" on the use of this kind of deal. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
The police are WRONG: Watching YouTube videos is NOT illegal
And our man Corfield is pretty bloody cross about it
China hopes home-grown OS will oust Microsoft
Doesn't much like Apple or Google, either
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Fast And Furious 6 cammer thrown in slammer for nearly three years
Man jailed for dodgy cinema recording of Hollywood movie
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Don't even THINK about copyright violation, says Indian state
Pre-emptive arrest for pirates in Karnataka
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?