And not just any civil justice apparatus, either. They are filing class actions, which ironically, are in extreme jeopardy thanks to the recent spread of forced arbitration clauses and class action waivers in all sorts of contracts and agreements. These clauses allow corporations to prevent class actions and force cases into corporate-designed private arbitration systems, directly impinging on the legal rights of privacy advocates. How ironic.
First is Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s new class action suit against the NSA. Let's just ignore the hypocrisy of this guy for a minute (e.g., if you go to the Senator's website to read about why we should eliminate trial by jury in medical malpractice cases, a pop up window appears first asking you to join his NSA data collection lawsuit. Plus his lead lawyer in the case, former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, supported Virginia “tort reform.” I give up.) But we're glad anyone has access to the courts and especially class actions so kudos to them.
Now let's turn to the class action filed by victims of data theft against Target, which allowed hackers to steal “up to 40 million credit and debit card records, including Target REDcards, of customers who shopped in-store in the second-largest retail data breach on record.” Here’s a new one in Ohio. And Massachusetts. Colorado. Oregon. And Minnesota, where Target’s based.
Meanwhile, a class action has been filed against Facebook for "systematically violat[ing] consumers’ privacy by reading its users’ personal, private Facebook messages without their consent." Specifically,
[W]hen Facebook finds a link in a private message, it essentially clicks on the URL and if that site has a Facebook ‘Like’ button, the inclusion of the URL in that message is registered as a ‘Like’ for that webpage.…
The lawsuit alleges that Facebook, rather than just filtering messages for spam, mines them for data that it sells to advertisers, marketers and other data-miners. In 2011, the company made $2.7 billion in targeted ad sales, according to the lawsuit.
Notes Bloomberg, plaintiffs say this practice “violat[es] the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and California privacy and unfair competition laws [and] compromises privacy and undermines Facebook’s promise of 'unprecedented' security options for its messaging function….”