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

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

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. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.